Feature Image: Janaina Tschäpe, Angervat, from the series "100 Little Deaths," 2002
Live Dangerously was created with a goal: to examine the way that women, and more specifically their bodies, interact with the natural world. To take it a step further, the goal of the exhibit was to subvert the way that women are traditionally depicted in nature. These women, all shot by women, are not here for male consumption. They’re not here to be idyllic and beautiful. These women are here to take claim.
The exhibit is made up of the work of twelve photographers: Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Janaina Tschäpe, Dana Hoey, Mwangi Hutter, Xaviera Simmons, Kirsten Justesen, Justine Kurland, Rania Matar, Ana Mendieta, Anna Gaskell, Laurie Simmons, and Graciela Iturbide.
Second Image: Rania Matar, Rayven, Miami Beach, Florida, from the series "She," 2019
One of the most compelling series of photos was Janaina Tschäpe’s "100 Little Deaths," which pictured a woman lying face-down on the Earth in several different places. All 100 photographs in the collection are being showed, which is a first for the artist.
My favorite photograph was Justine Kurland's, "Smoke Bombs." It features three adolescent women sitting in the grassy part of an overpass, setting off fireworks. When I thought about the chilly weather and the crowded traffic of D.C., I wanted to be there, with those girls, finding ways to cure boredom in a seemingly endless summer. Kurland also shows these girls skinny dipping and climbing trees. It’s an expression of freedom but it’s also commentary about gender. It’s so common to see photos of boys doing things like climbing trees or setting off fireworks. Young women were, for so long, never shown doing these fun or reckless activities, but Kurland set out to change that.
This is just two examples of some of the great work shown in this exhibit, and it’s really a must-see. Don’t miss your chance to see these women in all their disruptive, nonconforming, and natural glory.
The Live Dangerously exhibit is on display at the National Museum of Women in the Arts until January 20, 2020. Tickets are $8 for students.