A View of One’s Own
This exhibition, drawn in part from the holdings of the Photographic Archive of the American Academy in Rome, features a selection of photographs by foreign women in Rome from three successive generations. Their work confronts aspects of the Eternal City and its urban transformation over more than a century, from the Belle Époque to the present day. At the same time, it tracks the emergence of photography as an independent medium wielded by women with distinctive viewpoints, as it evolved from a documentary aid to a vehicle for subjective, even gendered expression.
The protagonists are American archaeologist Esther Boise Van Deman, who photographed Rome and its surroundings in the 1910s; Georgina Masson, author of the classic guidebook, The Companion Guide to Rome, that has shaped foreigners’ experiences of Rome since the 1950s; and contemporary photographer Jeannette Montgomery Barron, whose images capture glimpses of Rome as seen by an American living abroad in the Eternal City, folding them into a wandering, meditative reverie. Seen in succession against a photographic landscape of Rome defined for the most part by men, these photographs posit another way of seeing the city’s history. Taken by female flâneurs, empirical observations of bricks and mortar progressively dissolve into pure, evanescent experience.