based in New York
Donna Ferrato portfolio on Visura - a professional network to connect with photo editors and art buyers, and build photography portfolio websites. Visura members, like Donna, share photojournalism, art photography, landscape, travel photography, portraits and more. Donna has 0 projects, 34 community news posts, and 26 images shared in the photo stream.
Donna Ferrato is an internationally acclaimed photojournalist known for her groundbreaking documentation of the hidden world of domestic violence. Her seminal book Living With the...
She didn’t run into a door. She didn’t get punched by a stranger in the street. Someone who claimed to love her did this. The nurses and doctors in the ER know it. The cops know it. The neighbors know it. The children know it. But no one really wants to know it. Women with black eyes make people uneasy.
He seems like such a great guy! Such a great father, such a great athlete, such a great provider. He said, she said. She’s lying. Or she provoked him. He’s well connected. Let’s give him another chance. And another. He has the power. He has the money. Judges and lawyers often worry first about his ability to support the family —never mind how badly he hurts everyone living under the same roof. And society looks away from the woman’s face.
The black eye is usually inflicted when the children are in bed and there is nobody around. But one night I was a witness, and I opened the book on society’s hypocrisy. When I saw a woman being threatened and punched by the father of her three sons, I was scared but prepared, because I had a camera in my hands. Caught on this marital battleground, my instincts told me to get the proof. When I saw his hand rise up to hit her, I knew I had to freeze that moment of truth. My series of photographs changed my outlook. I could no longer be a denier. I saw the whole picture. He was in the wrong, and she was trapped in the gilded cage of his warped world. I was a witness with a camera, and my documentation improved her chance of being believed.
From that point everything changed. My photograph of a battered woman cowering in the bathroom became a cry against violence in the home. It was the first time society was forced to look at the mess under the rug. Now I too had a dream: Someday the world would wake up to the disadvantage that women have in their intimate relationships with men. I would make everyone look into their eyes.
Last week Colbie Holderness bravely went public with a photograph of her black-and-blue face. The photo was taken by Rob Porter, the man who allegedly abused her, his other ex-wife, Jennie Willoughby, and an unnamed ex-girlfriend. Soon afterwards, the president of the United States stood in the Oval Office and announced his support for Rob Porter. It was his word against hers, he said, and he believed his staff secretary. But the President can’t sweep that photograph of Holderness’s black eyes under the rug. Everyone can see the truth there. Black eyes don’t lie.
Originally published on time.com, February 12, 2018
If you've wanted to join me on one of my workshops but can't get away for a whole week, now's your chance to work with me one-on-one in a single evening workshop.
Activation Manhattan is a 3 hour night shooting session from the Staten Island Ferry up to 34th Street/Herald Square, wandering the streets together as I teach you how to be more fearless. I'll help you active your eye, your empathy, and your instincts. Read more & sign up here.
In the Happy Hour Portfolio Review I review not only the photographs, but the photographer- your method, habits, and character. Where are you going with your photography and how can you get there? 2 hour meeting- cocktails included. Read more and sign up here.
A short but sweet photography event with great street photographers and some of the best photo editors in the business today. Thanks to the Loculars team- Ayash & Shamik- for bringing us all together and for the concept around the experience- because it's not over. It begins now with photographers sharing their experiences with photographic aficionados. A round of applause to curators Alice Gabriner and Jamie Wellford for their stellar and steadfast focus on making this a successful event. -DF
Donna has deftly captured Tribeca’s changing landscape characterized by never-ending development, gentrification and a rebirth post 9/11. The resulting photographs, much like Donna, are soulful, romantic, honestly evoking the dignity, gumption and wit of the city. -Alice Gabriner
It was incredible to meet and talk with Jessica Chen. My friend Mark Nachmias who has more Leicas than the Leica store in Soho joined the fun. Speaking of the Leica store, Rene Perez was there. Photographer H Nazan Isik made the trip downtown. Then there's Phil Penman, smooth as silk street photographer. Another featured artist was Mark dePaola, beauty and fashion photographer. It was great to see Adriana Teresa & Graham Letorney of Visura supporting the show. The treasure of the night, Pearl, posed in front of my Tribeca wall and gave me that defiant look I love on a young woman's face.
We are excited to offer a selection of new and vintage images, as well as one limited edition poster, for sale in the new online print shop! Some of these photographs, such as "Payphone," have never been published before. "Parisian Children with Baguettes (1977)" is a rare early image from when I was just starting to photograph. We plan to switch out the selection in the print shop regularly, so be sure to check back. P.S. Domestic and international shipping are available! Contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
Tomorrow I'll be giving a lecture at K&M Camera, NYC. The talk is free and open to all, and you can register here.
I'll also be announcing a new series of portfolio review sessions, called the "Happy Hour Portfolio Review," and I'll be raffling off one session! The reviews consist of one hour of one-on-one critique of your photography and professional advice at a local Tribeca bar.
It was the end of the trilogy of the Erotic Eye Workshops; which began in Mallorca, Spain in 2015 and ended in Slab City, California in 2017. Two crazy photographers bring a group of hopeful, hungry, innocent photographers into their web of merry prankster fun and hardcore, concerned photography. The workshop is not for the politically correct; it cuts through the salami.
I'll be in Cortona for the opening of my retrospective "American Woman: 40 Years" and while there, teach a no-holds-barred Erotic Eye mini-workshop with my partner in crime, Tomeu Coll. Just a few spots remaining- sign up now.
A four-decade-long journey: that of the American woman and of Donna Ferrato’s life and career. “American Woman” is the first time that photographs from Ferrato’s domestic violence, personal, and swingers’ archives are brought together into one exhibition.
The photographs never condemn the women in them; if there is condemnation it is for the role society has constructed for them. The images are a study of the objectifying male gaze, as well as the female gaze—Ferrato’s own. They show the links between sex, love, and violence.
“American Woman” is broken up into three general time periods and themes following Ferrato’s career as a photographer and the changing roles women have undergone in the United States since the 1970s: a journey through women’s liberation, submissiveness and ultimate awakening.
Join us for the opening at Cortona on July 13th, or see the exhibition any time until October 1st, 2017.
Erotic Eye Workshop comes to Cortona July 16-17
For the first time, the Erotic Eye Workshop will be offered as a two-day intensive in conjunction with the American Woman exhibition. Be prepared for some major surprises (as usual) in this raunchy and rowdy workshop.
I recently had a conversation with a young survivor of domestic violence who lives in Kosovo. He hopes to expand awareness of domestic violence in his country and I was glad to speak with him.
"Through all my childhood I have been exposed to domestic violence. As a little child it was very hard to cope with the terrible feeling of seeing my mother being an obedient wife just for the sake of her children. I had no strength to do something that could wipe away her tears and stop the hand of my father from beating us. I was always looking for a way to speak it out, to tell people how harmful domestic violence is and make them understand. I have been following Donna Ferrato’s work since a year now, and everytime I scroll to her photographs I relate myself to them..." Read the rest here
On Friday, Time's special issue featuring the "100 Most Influential Images of All Time" hit news stands and launched on their special website. It was a project three years in the making, with Donna, her subject Elisabeth, and Deputy Photo Editor Paul Moakley working closely together to create a short film that you can watch here. Explore the 20 short films and 100 photographs on the website- a beautiful book that goes into more depth is also available for purchase through Time.
Donna is honored to be among such great company in the history of photography, with other change-makers and activists. Speaking about many of the photographs chosen in this list, she says:
"The power of a photograph isn't that it's a great photograph, but that it forces us to confront something too often denied." -DF
Inspired by Time and the collaboration with Paul, Elisabeth and Donna are coming together to tell their story in a new format; raw, uncensored, and personal.
Leonard Street was a hive of celebrity inanity, but from Liberty Street to the Reade St Pub, people came out to honor feelings that still cut deep into the marrow.
Overheard by Tower One when the clock hit midnight, a young woman said she wanted to be inside by the memorial pools. Her boyfriend replied "You can't go in now. It's not water you hear. It's the dead who are there."
Pictured: Fireman and first responder Rock Daddy and Sophie Moskowitz; Ivonne Dersch and kids; fireman Mr. Angelo Jr.; Kylie Jenner; protestors against the fashion industry's use of cheap/slave labor; the Marrus family; Ladder 1 firefighters rescuing the Jenner sisters stuck in the elevator of Steven Schnall's building; Gigino's restaurant tin roof hole showcases the memorial lights.
Today was graduation day for Avenues, The World School. Family friend Zaira Apolinario Chaplin was a student speaker, and Robert de Niro was the commencement speaker and received an honorary degree, as he never graduated high school. A beautiful day on Chelsea Piers. Congratulations to the very first graduating class and especially Zaira.
"It was not my intention to document domestic violence. I hadn’t much thought about it, because it had not threatened my childhood. One night, four months after I was documenting this couple in their beautiful mansion, the husband attacked his wife (without apology or shame) in front of me and my camera.
I was shocked because he seemed to feel entitled to hit her, even in front of an outsider, because she was his wife.
Up until that point, I had been trying to show the beauty of people in love. Shocked that love could go so wrong, I became obsessed with documenting domestic violence. Driven to try to do something about it, I found that a camera was my best weapon."
Elisabeth Lindberg is the bravest advocate for women to leave abusive relationships before anyone ends up dead. She overcame the abuse. She recuperated her dignity. She broke the cycle of violence within her family. Elisabeth did this when society's eyes were closed against a battered woman's reality. I'm thankful that by being there at that moment, as a photographer I could be of service, metaphorically speaking, to Elisabeth and all battered women I've met throughout the years. They have all been my guides through these 34 years of searching for ways to educate people through photographs about the horrible injustice of domestic violence.
The selection is curated by Rene Perez and focuses on recent work from the Tribeca series that has been ongoing for over a decade. Much of it has never been exhibited before. Light refreshments served. We hope to see you there!
Spanish speakers can read the interview on Xatakafoto, and for everyone else please read the English version below. Even if you don't speak Spanish check out the Xatakafoto post for the accompanying photographs.
Xatakafoto: It is not a coincidence that you are developing the Erotic Eye Workshops. A main theme of your long career as a photographer is sexuality. You developed a strong body of photographs working around sexuality in your work Love & Lust after getting separated from your husband and trying to find yourself around love and sexual experiences that you recorded with your camera. In I AM UNBEATABLE and Living with the Enemy, you work around sexuality as a way of possession and as a powerful weapon that is used usually against women.
When did sex and eroticism start to be a theme that has such an influence on you?
Donna Ferrato: It began in Paris in 1977. I was an impressionable young divorcee, traveling alone, sleeping on park benches to save money and hungry all the time. No possessions except for a taped-up red and green Leica M4 around my neck and the gift of an insatiable imagination. When I saw the romance happening with Parisians and their daily bread, I felt I had to make photographs of the fresh, hot, unwrapped baguettes being carried away as far as my eyes could see. All that my erotic eye could see were people marching off to make either war or love with the staff of life. The baguette became my muse.
X: The Erotic Eye workshops are based on the idea to create a team of photographers and also some models that work together around eroticism. The team lives together in a specific area during one week and it could be considered more than a photography workshop. It is an ethical and reflexive travel around eroticism.
What is a day like during one of your Erotic Workshops? What is the relation between the photographers, models and the place? What things are trying to be done or experimented and what things are not allowed?
DF: We don’t use models. We meet people. We find each other. Everything springs from an encounter.
The erotic does not have to be sexual. It is an energy. Eroticism explores desire but not necessarily the satisfaction of that desire. We want to delve past the surface and deeper into the subconscious.
By the way, students are not allowed to have sex with the subjects. Everyone is treated with the utmost respect.
When we set up camp in Mallorca, people were curious about us. ‘Who are these Erotic Eye photographers?’ Tomeu Coll, my co-leader, was born there and he has been photographing the people of Mallorca, mainly in the Badlands. Tomeu shoots like Hunter S. Thompson writes, with a razor sharp eye and a love for women and his island. He was able to give us access to private intimate worlds tucked away within his homeland.
X: The past year the first Erotic Eye Workshop was developed in Mallorca. This year it is in Berlin and next year (tell me if I’m wrong) it is going to be done in Tokyo. Why is it important for you to do this workshop in different societies and how do you think that these different places affect the creative process of the workshops?
DF: We are still undecided about the final destination for the Erotic Eye Workshop trilogy. We are anthropologically studying and trying to witness how different cultures express love and desire.
X: You are not alone developing these workshops. The photographers Jane Evelyn Atwood and Tomeu Coll work with you, so we can say that you are a team. How is the experience of directing a workshop? What experiences and feelings bring these two photographers to the workshops?
DF: The Erotic Eye Workshop was in the back of my mind since 2005 when I started a new workshop concept with "Risky Pictures.” It was in Barcelona that I met Tomeu Coll, who was a student in this workshop. At the time, eroticism was seen as too controversial. People wouldn't even sign up for such a thing. Whenever I tried advertising it on Facebook or social media, it would immediately get shut down. When I decided to give it a real push forward, the place I wanted to work was in Mallorca, because of its strong hedonist community. Tomeu was born in Mallorca. From day one he was on board to collaborate. He is extremely helpful with the logistics and social connections for the Erotic Eye workshop because he knows everyone and makes friends quickly. He is also deeply aware of the difference between sex & eroticism. I respect Tomeu because he would never abuse or take advantage of a woman or man with his camera.
Jane Evelyn Atwood is a champion in the world of photography. She is an ardent humanist, but she also has a wicked eye for symbolic details. I adore her as a sister, a friend, and one of the best photographers I know. I trust her commitment to her subjects and especially to women. Her book Too Much Time is an unflinching look at how many young women have been robbed of their lives often just for defending themselves or their children.
Every Erotic Eye workshop will have a new co-leader on board with Tomeu and me. In Mallorca we invited Karen Kuehn because of her portraits from Burning Man. She is a portrait photographer with an innovative approach to lighting. She was patient and generous with the students, sharing her stories and advice with fluid ease. The students grew enormously under Karen's wing. This time I suspect Jane is going to challenge the photographers to use their minds, hearts and eyes to keep it real. Nothing contrived.
X: The Erotic Eye Workshop is not the Sexual Eye Workshop, there’s a difference that probably for you and the participants of the workshop is clear, but me and some readers don't know. Can you explain to us the differences?
DF: "Sex Eyes" would be boring. This would limit us to exploring only the act of sex, and reduce our photos to pornography. Too much pornography can be corrosive to the imagination and can give people a shallow perception of sexuality. Eroticism resides in the mind and comes from freeing yourself from social constraints, and embracing what we feel deeply but cannot articulate. It is not simply a body rush or a wave of physical pleasure. In Mallorca we found that we were photographing people's minds, and, I believe that's what gave their images so much power. It was more about the meaning of what was being done, not the actual act. It looked physical, but it was psychological and about trust.
X: Sexuality is the origin of our lives, and like it or not, one of the most powerful emotions that we experience as humans during our lives. Why do you think that in practically all societies there are taboos and strong legislation and control around sexuality and in some cases is used as a weapon that gives power?
DF: Many societies constructed taboos as a fearful response to the immense power women wield with their bodies and their sexualities. Out of resentment, men invented religions based upon male deities, creating patriarchal systems to weaken women, teaching them to feel ashamed of their sexuality. In the workshop we are attempting to metaphorically go back in time and change these negative societal biases. Staying in centuries-old houses, and with each photographer adopting the approach and eye of an assigned “dead photographer,” such as Gerda Taro or Philip Jones Griffiths, we aim to connect with rebels of the past who also sought to change their culture’s close-minded or old-fashioned views through the power of images.
X: What goals do you have after these workshops are finished and the book is published?Do you want to open some discussions around sexuality in society with this work?
DF: I aim to advance a broader discussion about women's rights and censorship, emphasizing women as fully realized and liberated human beings. It's important for women to be able to own their sexuality. Sexuality is fluid and amorphous, bleeding rich color into all facets of life. The Erotic Eye collection may become a window through which people can boldly share with one another what they find uniquely sensual, constantly expanding their understanding of the erotic, with eyes wide open, subconscious unbound, seeing the unseen.
It started at the Tribeca Film Festival screening of "Love True," directed by Alma Har'el, a fantastical documentary about the brutal sadness of love. Walking out of the cinema with Gillian, out of the sky came teenage boys tumbling across the sidewalk. One appeared under assault. Our breath quickened, Gillian and me, as we tried to make sense of our seeing. Their faces told one hundred stories. I pulled my Leica M60 from inside a coat pocket like taking a gun outta my holster. That's down and dirty street photography; seeing shooting no questions asked.
We are pleased to share this interview, written by Rachel Lowry, about the The Erotic Eye workshop trilogy.
It's very rare for TIME to focus on a photography workshop and even more unusual that they would choose The Erotic Eye, as the nature of the workshop can be unsettling to people. We commend them for shining a light on stories that aren't so easy to look at or discuss.
For more information on the workshop please visit the website.
Eroticism is to strike to the inmost core of the living being, so that the heart stands still. -Georges Bataille
Last November The Erotic Eye workshop began in a 19th century Mallorcan farmhouse. Seven participants from across the world, one videographer, and three leading photographers lived together for seven days as a unit, live or die. Every night after a home-made dinner we reviewed the daily work and critiqued it. My constant message for the photographers was to engage all their senses and to be open to sexuality in all of its sublime manifestations. We were photographing real people with their own desires. They let us into their world and our job was to be there and create pictures without judgment.
I believe there is a sacred consciousness to be found by looking at the past and I want developing photographers to embrace the accomplishments of dead photographers. We can learn from the dead photographers who have created such a wealth of imagery since Niepce, by becoming them.
Berlin, historically one of the most sexually liberated cities in the world, is the destination for our next adventure. With my co-leaders Jane Evelyn Atwood, a gifted humanistic photographer with rigorous standards for honesty and compassion like no other; and Tomeu Coll, my fearless partner-in-photography, leading the way, there won’t be an erotic secret safe in Berlin. Brave new photographers who are ready to sign up for Berlin will be joining a select group of past workshop photographers already on their erotic journeys.
All sex is political. All photography is personal. That’s how I see it.
To apply to The Erotic Eye, please send a one-page letter stating why you would like to attend the workshop, along with a link to your online portfolio to email@example.com. The cost of the workshop is $3,000 plus $250 food & alcohol surcharge. The course fee includes three meals per day & lodging for the full week.
The best work from the trilogy will be published in a book by Fotoevidence.
I'm excited to be taking over the Visura Instagram @visura.co to share images from my coverage of the struggle for women's rights over the past thirty years. Check back every day for the coming week to see images of women's rights protests in New York in the 1980s, "Jane Roe" herself at the Supreme Court in 1992, the criminalization of abortion in Latin America, women's health clinic under threat in the U.S. in 2015, and this month's rallies in favor of Whole Woman's Health.
I'll be answering comments and messages about the work via Instagram.
Join us tonight at 6:30 for an informal presentation and discussion hosted by FoundFolios. I will be presenting my latest Tribeca work from the past two years. Two other photographers, Elliot Landy and Frank Rocco, will also be showing their photography. The event is free and open to all.
Tonight, January 27, 6:30-8:30 pm Paulaner NYC 265 Bowery, New York, New York
This year inspired us to dig through the archives and scan unpublished Kodachrome 64.
This short story features Joe Minter, Lonnie Holley, and their greatest champion, Jane Fonda. I was working with writer Claudia G Dowling, on assignment for Talk Magazine, which folded before the story could be published.
Joe Minter's home in Birmingham, Alabama, is right up the hill from Martin Luther King Jr Drive. In his front yard where I took his photograph he displays what he calls an "African Village in America," as well as a toilet dedicated to the 1960s civil rights movement. His home rests on two historically black burial grounds. As Joe says, "We are in the presence of about 100,000 African ancestors.”
I'd like to remember the people who opened my eyes to new ways of loving. 2015 was about the heart making itself heard and seen. I want to thank the people who showed me that friendship is a gift, not a given. And that friendship is a currency more valuable than money. No matter where you are tonite, I feel your love, your concern, your trust. Thank you. I hope you feel it coming back to you.
I am looking forward to working with young, talented photographer Annie Flanagan for the next six months. Annie won the Visura Grant for Multimedia/Video for "Love Hannah." The film deals with relationship violence between a young woman, Hannah, and her boyfriend, the abuser. I'm thrilled to participate in Annie's journey and learn what drives her to cover this important topic.
As the year comes to a close, we want to give you the latest news from the studio…
The fourth bi-annual Tribeca Limited Edition 2014 Portfolio is finished and ready for view. Each box consists of thirteen silver gelatin photographs, stamped with Donna’s official logo (“10013”) and contextual words hand-written. This year’s portfolio was curated by the late, incredible photographer Mary Ellen Mark. The photographs capture the changing story of Tribeca with a steadfast quiet patience. For more information, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nick Fitzhugh’s “Conflict” film series continues to gain momentum. If you have yet to watch the episodes (or want to watch again), The Atlantic will now be airing one episode per week.
Finally, due to popular demand, the exhibition “Sguardo di Donna” or “Through Women’s Eyes” at the Casa dei Tre Oci has been extended an extra month. If you find yourself in Venice before January 10th, 2016, check out this expansive show featuring the work of photographers like Diane Arbus, Letitzia Battaglia, Yoko Ono, and Donna!
Please stay tuned to some exciting things to come in early 2016!
Photo: from the 2014 Tribeca Portfolio. Greenwich Hotel, 2011. Greenwich & North Moore Streets
Last Tuesday, I was interviewed on CNN's Christiane Amanpour along with photographer Eros Hoagland, for Nick Fitzhugh's films "Conflict."
It felt like a grand moment to have Christiane focus on the two of us. It was an extraordinary kick in the butt. And what a beautiful man Eros is- he said things that very few war photographers have the courage to say. I wish I could've talked more about I Am Unbeatable- the amazing women who break away from domestic violence and never go back- Christiane, could I come on again?
I am excited to announce a new television series, "Conflict," directed by Nick Fitzhugh.
In Nick's words-
"Photographers bringing light to the shadows.
The world’s best conflict photographers take us behind the lens and into their lives. Witness their personal and professional battles to engage with, understand, handle, capture and present different forms of conflict in the hopes of making the world better.
Nothing brings you closer to the most important human conflicts of our time."
Conflict features the work of Pete Muller, Joao Silva, myself, Nicole Tung, Robin Hammond, and Eros Hoagland.
I am proud to announce The Erotic Eyephotography workshop, taking place on the island of Mallorca from November 13-20, 2015. In the spirit of Ferrato’s 2004 book Love & Lust, The Erotic Eye will offer photographers the opportunity to connect with their “third eye.” The group will live as one in a villa by the beach and will work under the watchful eyes of Karen Kuehn, photographer and master of Burning Man; Tomeu Coll, photographer and master of the Badlands; and myself, Donna Ferrato.
The Erotic Eyeis a guided tour through the world of eroticism, symbols, and fantasies. At its heart is the belief that we are born to love and be loved, and that, in the words of the late great Czech photographer Miroslav Tichý, “All of society is based on sexuality.” Photographers will not only build portfolios, but will learn about themselves and will become more attuned to visualizing with their erotic eye.
The Erotic Eye is not a traditional workshop. No rigid activity schedule. It’s the organic process of looking, talking and editing 24/7. Photographers will watch films and will create talismans with artifacts found in the fields of the Badlands; they will work and live by their five senses. Shooting will take place largely at night and in the early morning. Non traditional lighting will be taught. While photographers will be encouraged to work independently, daily group critiques are mandatory.
The workshop will have a group van and driver. Areas for shooting will include the Badlands and the local villages. Photographers will need to form their own stories and narratives from the mise enscènes created in the villa and on the grounds. A book will be published as the culmination of this workshop. Publisher will be announced before the workshop begins. A video short will be made and participants must sign the waiver upon registering. NO NUDITY is required of participants.
The workshop is limited to eighteen. All levels of proficiency accepted. The cost is based on a sliding scale between $3,000-$5,000 depending on income, with special consideration for working photographers. Daily food, lodging, and transportation in Mallorca is covered. Photographers who have participated previously in a Donna Ferrato workshop will receive a returning participant 10% discount.
To apply to The Erotic Eye, please send a one-page letter stating why you would like to attend the workshop, along with a link to your online portfolio to email@example.com.
Stay tuned for a promotional video featuring the photographs of Karen Kuehn!
No construction noise. Kiddie pool parties at local bars took over the busy streets. Mermaids in bathing suits chased little boys with bubble guns. Neighbors partied on their rooftop gardens. Bill Cunningham walked around looking for pictures with a hurt leg. Labor Day in Tribeca was a beautiful dream.
Last month, I traveled across the country for Mother Jones to shoot a story on the effects of new abortion restrictions in Virginia, Michigan, New Mexico, and Texas. “How the War on Women Was Won,” written by Molly Redden, appears in the magazine’s September/October 2015 issue.
In addition to working on similar stories for the New York Times Magazine ("Pro-Life Nation," 2006) and New York Magazine ("The New Underground," 2005), I myself have had two abortions - the first because I was still a child emotionally, and the second because the father was threatening, possessive, and armed. It was an extremely difficult decision; but without the abortions, I would have been trapped.
Yet in the years since my own abortions, access to providers and clinics has become drastically limited, casualties of a calculated and escalating offensive on the part of conservatives and the religious right. “This is what 2015 looks like,” writes Redden. “Abortion providers struggle against overwhelming odds to stay open, while women ‘turn themselves into pretzels’ to get to them, as one researcher put it. Activists have been calling it the ‘war on women.’ But the onslaught of new abortion restrictions has been so successful, so strategically designed, and so well coordinated that the war in many places has essentially been lost.”
Anti-choice billboards used to line the highways in these states, bearing images of blond-haired, blue-eyed babies and proclaiming conservative beliefs about conception and fetal development. Yet the population that is most affected by abortion restrictions is not white, but Indian, Native American, black, and Hispanic, as well as largely poor and single. These women are being forced to have children when they cannot take care of them, and being pushed into having a child that will then be punished for being born. But the truly scary thing about these once-ubiquitous billboards — which not only fetishize the fetus but prey upon the vulnerable and uneducated — is that in my entire trip, I only saw one, in New Mexico. The religious right no longer needs them; they believe the war has already been won.
In Detroit, I met and photographed Renee Chelian, founder and CEO of Northland Family Planning Center. “Sometimes, I feel like I’ve gone back 40-some years,” Chelian told us. “And I can hardly believe that…Every day is just frightening. I think things are bad, and then they get worse somewhere else.” I also photographed Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, who is at work fighting a Texas law known as HB2, which imposes unnecessary and unrealistic rules on abortion clinics, and is directly responsible for the closing of twenty-three of the state’s forty-one abortion clinics in less than two years. If the law is fully enacted, the number of clinics in Texas will drop to ten.
Conservative lawmakers are unmoved, even in cases where a woman’s life is in danger or where a woman has been raped. "If a woman has [the right to an abortion], why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t [in most cases] result in anyone’s death,” declared Lawrence Lockman (R-ME) last year. "Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen,” said Congressional candidate Richard Mourdock (R-IN) in 2012.
Younger generations of women must step up to the plate to fight back against these relentless assaults on their health and freedom. In the words of Dr. George Tiller - an abortion doctor who performed the most difficult, late-term abortions, to save women's lives, and was assassinated in his own church in 2009 - "Abortion is not a cerebral or a reproductive issue. Abortion is a matter of the heart. For until one understands the heart of a woman, nothing else about abortion makes any sense at all."
La Casa dei Tre Oci, Venice's premiere photography museum, announces Sguardo di Donna: Da Diane Arbus a Letizia Battaglia La Passione e Il Coraggio (Through the Eyes of Woman). An exhibition including the work of Diane Arbus, Martina Bacigalupo, Yael Bartana, Letizia Battaglia, Margaret Bourke-White, Sophie Calle, Lisetta Carmi, Tacita Dean, Lucinda Devlin, Donna Ferrato, Giorgia Fiorio, Nan Goldin, Roni Horn, Zanele Muholi, Shirin Neshat, Yoko Ono, Catherine Opie, Bettina Rheims, Tracey Rose, Martha Rosler, Chiara Samugheo, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Donata Wenders, and Yelena Yemchuk, it will be open September 11 through December 12, 2015. The exhibition will feature thirteen photographs from Ferrato's domestic violence archive.