Sapphic Modernists - Re-visiting Elizabeth McCausland and Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York

Conference item


Maude-Roxby, A., Seibold, S. and Goldsmiths University in conjunction with Tate Modern 2016. Sapphic Modernists - Re-visiting Elizabeth McCausland and Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York. Urban Encounters Conference. Goldsmiths University and Tate Modern 03 - 06 Nov 2016
TitleSapphic Modernists - Re-visiting Elizabeth McCausland and Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York
AuthorsMaude-Roxby, A., Seibold, S. and Goldsmiths University in conjunction with Tate Modern
Abstract

Within our research of female/sapphic collaborations of Modernity, a perpetual process of ‘erasure’ or the ‘writing out of art history’ of female collaborators is exposed. One such example is evident through analysis of the 1939 publication of Berenice Abbott’s photographs in Changing New York which has been acknowledged as a key contribution to urban photographic history. Little or nothing is known of the fact that all of the original captions for Changing New York were deemed not fit for publication and that the innovative spatial text-image design devised by Berenice Abbott and Elizabeth McCausland was rejected. Instead the publishers insisted on a very conservative approach to design and the blandness of the published captions read activate Berenice Abbott’s photographs much like a guide book to the city. We found the complete set of original captions to the book, written by Elizabeth McCausland, a communist and socially engaged journalist and long-time partner of Berenice Abbott. These highly critical texts act to place the photographs directly into the larger political and social context of the 1930s Depression in USA. The original attempt and idea for the book by Abbott and McCausland was intended to acknowledge both formats, text and photography, as equal in terms of activating meaning production and/or tools for critical reflection. The book was intended as a critical reflection on the harrowing social conditions and inequalities of the 1930s in New York City.

Research GroupCREATE/Feminisms cluster
ConferenceUrban Encounters Conference
Publication process dates
Deposited03 Mar 2017
Completed01 Nov 2016
Accepted12 May 2016
Output statusPublished
Additional information

Keynote Saturday 5 November: Alice Maude-Roxby & Stephanie Seibold in conversation

LanguageEnglish
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