Press Room

Live Dangerously photographers challenge traditional depictions of women in nature

Jun 05 2019

WASHINGTON—The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) presents Live Dangerously, an exhibition of work by 12 photographers who use the female body as sculptural material, positioning figures in natural surroundings to suggest provocative narratives. On view Sept. 19, 2019–Jan. 20, 2020, the exhibition features work by artists Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Anna Gaskell, Dana Hoey, Mwangi Hutter, Graciela Iturbide, Kirsten Justesen, Justine Kurland, Rania Matar, Ana Mendieta, Laurie Simmons, Xaviera Simmons and Janaina Tschäpe.

Conventional art historical representations of female figures have traditionally shown women passively linked to the landscape through gendered associations of nature, eroticism and fertility. In contrast, Live Dangerously presents fierce, dreamy and witty images of women presiding over the landscape—all through the lens of the female gaze. From the literally groundbreaking work of Ana Mendieta to the first-ever installation of all 100 large-scale photographs in Janaina Tschäpe’s series “100 Little Deaths” (1996–2002), the artists illuminate the planet’s surface as a stunning stage for human drama. Coinciding with the exhibition Judy Chicago—The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, the works in Live Dangerously are drawn from the museum’s collection of modern and contemporary photography and enhanced by loans that illuminate the place of landscape in the construction of personal histories and identities.

“Concurrent with our presentation of Judy Chicago’s The End, this photography exhibition explores female subjects’ engagement with the Earth’s terrain," said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “The works in Live Dangerously turn art historical representations of women’s bodies in nature on their head to create new, empowered relationships that challenge us to see ourselves and our environment in new ways.”  

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National Museum of Women in the Arts