Despite having received the invitation and put a note in my diary, I completely forgot it was the Deutsche Boerse Prize tonight, and instead attended the first Firecracker event, hosted by its founder Fiona Rogers (of Magnum) at the Apple Store - and it was a joyful, if completely unplanned, decision. Firecracker is a new organisation which aims to promote European women photographers, and the evening included three slideshows of work by Tessa Bunney, Laura Hynd, and Leonie Hampton, with each photographer speaking about their images.
Tessa Bunney showed her series Home Work, a documentary perspective on Vietnamese villages that specialise in making one product. Laura Hynd’s work, The Letting Go, marks a departure away from working to editorial briefs and relinquishing control, a deeply personal and intimate piece that borders on the confessional. Finally, Léonie Hampton discussed her beautiful series, In the Shadow of Things, a book project which spans over several years and documents the process of clearing her mother’s house, cluttered by mountains of possessions that represent years of suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Ending the evening, the debate veered, perhaps inevitably, towards the difference between men and women in photography. There is an incredible amount of women who study photography (in fact at universities in the UK, women studying photography outnumber men two to one), yet there seems to be very few women who actually end up as photographers. Is it merely biology - the desire to start a family and to have a stable lifestyle, or perhaps the sheer physicality of photography - which keeps women out of the field? Or is there something more specific about women’s nurturing personalities which sees them turn to editing, mentoring, art buying and curating rather than photography? The jury’s out, but Firecracker, although a young organisation, provides interesting breeding ground for debate.