Virginia Ryan, Steven Feld: Exposures: A White Woman in West Africa; Book

$20.00 USD

VoxLox BK, 2007 9"x9", 85 pages, 62 color photographs


Photographs by Virginia Ryan, Introductory text by Virginia Ryan, Essay by Steven Feld

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Exposures: A White Woman in West Africa is a photographic book by visual artist Virginia Ryan. The 60 images of herself in diverse domestic, private, and public situations were taken by African and non-African acquaintances and passersby between 2001 and 2005, when Ryan lived and worked as an artist and member of a diplomatic mission in Ghana.

To situate the images in a dialogue of art and anthropology, Ryan invited anthropologist Steven Feld to write a text about whiteness and photographic realism to accompany the photographs. Feld's text focuses on the complex and highly charged questions raised by these provocative and often unsettling pictures. Speaking of the book's first immediate first impression, he writes:

"Each image unleashes immediate questions about what might be going on in the frame, both socially and visually. What social dramas are on display about race, power, and gender? About masks, ritual, and ceremony? About bodily adornment, clothing, and appearance? About social interaction in public? About skin, gesture, and movement? Simultaneously, what photographic dramas are viewers witnessing? Images of people caught unaware? Images more deliberately posed but made to look off-the-cuff? What complicities unite those exposed and those behind the camera? In all: what kinds of performances are presented in these photographic juxtapositions of Virginia Ryan with strangers and intimates, innocents and collaborators? Does their viewing allow one to gaze through the transparency of racial difference? Does their viewing make one feel trapped in, or liberated from, the banalities of political correctness and transcendental universal humanism?"

16 photographs and Italian text published in Voci: Semestriale di Scienze Umane, 3(1):63-78, Fall 2006.

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