Cover, image source: Publisher website


Winner of the Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation Catalogue of the Year Award 2021

Publisher Note

Presenting a diverse geographic and ethnic selection, the What They Saw anthology interprets historical photobooks by women in the broadest sense possible: classic bound books, portfolios, personal albums, unpublished books, zines and scrapbooks. Some of the books documented are well-known publications such as Anna Atkins’ Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843-1853), Germaine Krull’s Métal (1928) and Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph (1972), while other books may be relatively unknown, such as Alice Seeley Harris’ The Camera and the Congo Crime (c. 1906), Varvara Stepanova’s Groznyi smekh. Okna Rosta (1932), Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson’s African Journey (1945), Fina Gómez Revenga’s Fotografías de Fina Gómez Revenga (1954), Eiko Yamazawa’s Far and Near (1962) and Gretta Alegre Sarfaty’s Auto-photos: Série transformações—1976: Diário de Uma Mulher—1977 (1978). Also addressed in the publication are the glaring gaps and omissions in current photobook history—in particular, the lack of access, support and funding for photobooks by non-Western women and women of color.

Structured as a traveling reading room, publication and series of public events, the project launched in November 2021 with the release of this publication. In May 2022, in partnership with the Wallach Division of the New York Public Library (NYPL), the What They Saw reading room will be on view at the NYPL’s main building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City. The reading room will then tour internationally to allow the over 250 books in the project to be shared with a global community.

Contributing Essayists: Mariama Attah, Jörg Colberg, Elizabeth Cronin, Deirdre Donohue, Anthony Hamber, Christine Hult- Lewis, Michiko Kasahara, Paula V. Kupfer, Jeffrey Ladd, Carole Naggar and Tony White.

Contributing Book Description Researchers-Writers: Rose Bishop, María Beatriz H. Carrión, Jesse Dritz, Taylor Fisch, Lauren Graves, Anna Jacobson, Paula V. Kupfer, Ashley McNelis, Katherine Mitchell, Frankie Moutafis, Carole Naggar, Caroline M. Riley and Kelsey Sucena.

What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women, 1843–1999 is a follow-up project to 10×10 Photobooks’ How We See: Photobooks by Women, which showcased contemporary photobooks by women (2000-2018) and began in 2018 at the New York Public Library with a tour to five other venues.

Art Book, Art Theory

What They Saw

— Historical Photobooks by Women, 1843–1999

edited by Russet Lederman, Olga Yatskevich

Release Place New York, United States of America
Edition 1st edition
Release Date 2021
Artist: Various Artists
Printrun 2000
ISBN-13: 978-0-578-93213-2
Topics Archives, Photobooks, Women
Language English
Format Softbound with dust jacket
Binding Smith sewn binding
Dimensions 24.0 × 30.0 cm
Pages 352

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