Groundbreaking Judy Dater exhibition, “Memoir” opening September 29th, 2012
On September 26th 2012, Thomas Paul Fine Art will debut Memoir, a compilation of thirty-six large digital prints by renowned feminist-photographer Judy Dater. Memoir is an exhibition several decades in the making, with work that explores Dater’s own experiences in love from adolescence to adulthood; there’s absolutely nothing held back, and every thrilling high and mortifying low is addressed. The prints in question are presented as a pseudo-scrapbook, incorporating words from her diaries which both summarize and amplify her work over four full decades.
For Memoir, Dater revisited her journals, re-reading pages of loves gained and lost, dreams, different experiences; essentially rediscovering herself after a period of six decades. This rediscovery compelled a more autobiographical shift in Dater’s work, and as Dater herself described the process, was both “amusing and embarrassing.” In these “scrapbook” pages, which truly document a life well-lived, she sometimes refers to older pictures, but just as often she creates new photographs to highlight her private stories that reach far beyond purely personal.
Dater’s emergence as a photographer coincided with the blossoming of the Feminist Movement of the late 1960’s. She focused her large format camera- using the photographic techniques of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Imogen Cunningham – on women. Photographing her subjects clothed and naked, Dater’s portraits from the 1970’s were personal, provocative, and often times humorous. Later, her portraits of naked men were both bold and intimate, reversing the usual gender-defined role of male photographer and female model, while presenting the masculine form in a vulnerable way. Still, from her earliest days as a photographer Dater turned the camera on herself: her first breakthrough was a series of nude self-portraits against desolate American landscapes, exploring the sublime power of nature, and later, a series of portraits as different alter egos of hers that satirized the prevalent female stereotypes of her time.
While it may be easy to pigeonhole the artist’s work as strictly-feminist, Memoir has an appeal that transcends gender, age, and race. The experiences she presents are universal and spread across an entire lifetime. Teens, twenty-somethings, and beyond can all relate to the emotions that Dater captures, and will, perhaps most importantly, discover more about themselves upon viewing.