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The
Darkroom
Rumour
June 2021
Look at Me
Bettina Rheims
Zanele Muholi & Pieter Hugo
#06 - June 2021

Willing to give

French photographer Bettina Rheims questions femininity, fantasies and female sexuality through an imposing body of work, from advertising commercials to museum walls.

An instinctive work, It is both very elaborate and nourished by artistic culture.
A free spirit, she borrows as much from the "female gaze" as the male, from Diane Arbus as much as Helmut Newton.
Her work won't be locked up: it disturbs.

Whether photographing Charlotte Rampling, Madonna, Naomi Campbell, anonymous prisoners, Femen, (or even Jacques Chirac!) her photographs become iconic. 
Modern icons who set up their models as gods (and often as fallen goddesses of Olympus, somewhat the worse for wear).

Ever since Modern Lovers, her pioneering work has approached non-gendered sensualities.
Above all she shows bodies transcended by desire.

At the heart of this special edition, the films My Life, Femen. Naked War and Gender Studies take us into the world of Bettina Rheims. She also returns in an exclusive interview for Darkroom Rumour on her recent projects. Serge Bramly, director of Rose, c’est Paris, writer and photographic specialist revisits Bettina Rheims' founding years.

Finally, Our South African series continues with Look at Me and the photographs of Zanele Muholi and Pieter Hugo, who both, in their own way, echo the visual engagement implied by looking at others through their strengths and weaknesses.

Films of June 2021  

Articles of the month

Circuit of the month

I'll move forwards, backwards, look into the viewfinder, step aside. It's not that it won't do, it's just that I'm looking. It's a slow pace.
- Bettina Rheims
Much of the violence that appears here relates to the violence of history on a global scale. Everything is intertwined and we cannot separate anything. It is also linked to the violence inherent in photography.
- Mikhael Subotzky

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Further exploration

• BETTINA RHEIMS: CO - directed by Patrick Remy ; 2017 ; Taschen ; multilingual

GENDER STUDIES - artist: Bettina Rheims ; 2014 ; Steidl Verlag 

• SHANGHAÏ - artist: Bettina Rheims ; author: Serge Bramly ; 2004 ; PowerHouse Books

• OXYMORIQUE, LES PHOTOGRAPHIES DE BETTINA RHEIMS - author: Michel Onfray ; 2005 ; Jannink Eds ; French

SOMNYAMA NGONYAMA, SALUT A TOI, LIONNE NOIRE ! - artist: Zanele Muholi ; 2021 ; Delpire & co ; French

ZANELE MUHOLI : FACES AND PHASES 2006-2014 - 2014 ; Steidl Verlag 

• ZANELE MUHOLI - 1999 ; La Fabrica

FLAT NOODLE SOUP TALK - artist: Pieter Hugo ; 2016 ; Editions Bessard 

MAUVAIS GENRE. LES TRAVESTIS À TRAVERS UN SIÈCLE DE PHOTOGRAPHIE AMATEUR - Sébastien Lifshitz Collection ; authors: Christine Bard and Isabelle Bonnet ; 2016 ; Textuel ; French

• KIN - artist: Pieter Hugo ; 2015 ; Aperture

• THE HYENA AND OTHER MEN - artist: Pieter Hugo ; 1999 ; Prestel

AFRICA 21ÈME SIÈCLE - directed by Ekow Eshun ; 2020 ; Textuel 

• THE FACE OF THE COUNTRY : A SOUTH AFRICAN FAMILY ALBUM 1860-1910  - Collective work ; edited by Karel Shoeman ; 1996 ; Human and Rousseau ; Cape Town

UNE HISTOIRE MONDIALE DES FEMMES PHOTOGRAPHES - authors: Luce Lebart and Marie Robert ; 2020 ; Textuel ; French

• WOMEN - artist: Annie Leibovitz ; author: Susan Sontag ; 1999 ; Random House

• WOMEN AND PHOTOGRAPHY IN AFRICA - directed by Darren Newbury, Lorena Rizzo and Kylie Thomas ; 2020 ; Routledge