Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood –Jour 6 Eva Besnyo, The Sensuous Image Part 2
Saturday, 23 June 2012 09:19

Many of the photographs in the Eva Besnyo exhibit elicited such emotional impact that I found myself ready to take a break and yet so spellbound that I had no choice but to continue. A film in a sectioned off area gave me a chance to sit and watch Eva as she goes through all of the archived photographs and her process of choosing photos for a retrospective and having others carefully and tenderly packed up to transfer them and give them as an endowment. They show her, an old woman toward the end of her years going through over 70 years of photographs, signing some with multiple copies, making comments on which were her favorites and which ones she’s not sure she took. I am deeply moved, getting into that experience, thinking that I am going toward that point and thinking of what I shall do with my body of writing. Mortality be damned I decide. I’ll figure that out when I get back from Paris.

The next section of the exhibit which documents Besnyo’s involvement with Dolle Mina, the feminist movement that gathered both women and men, mainly from the student protest movement. This was the 1970s where all around the world we were marching, taking to the streets, demanding equality. How many images have I seen from the States, the documentary of Gloria Steinem, remembering Bella Abzug, her out methods of insisting on equality. And here in the middle of Paris I am again reminded how universal this movement was/is. She took responsibility in the Netherlands for sending out images daily, like a press agency.

In 1982 at the age of 71 Besnyo has her first retrospective, “Eva Besnyo –‘n halve eeuw work” at the Amsterdam Historical Museum.

From 1994 to 1999 Bresnyo receives the Piet Zwart Prize, and the Oeuvre Prize in the Netherlands and the Erich Salomon Prize from the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Photographie (German Photography Society). 

Eva Bresnyo dies in 2003 in Lorsen near Hilversum.

After weathering this emotionally exhausting exhibition, I decided to have a Perrier in the museum restaurant. I must have looked shell shocked because a young Berliner, a woman sat down. We talked about how we were “blown away” by this experience. She told me she was an artist and drew comic books. She has been in Paris for a month for her work. I must admit I envy the fact that she is probably 40 years younger and wondered how she would spend the next several years, what she would do that she would always remember. We talked about the Women’s Movement and I told her about marching for rights, about the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles, a feminist artist’s haven, a place where women could make and show their arts. About Judy Chicago and The Dinner Party. I was pleased that she knew the work of the Guerilla Girls, and knew a bit about those times, the early women’s moment in the 70s. I gave her my card and we vowed to keep in touch by email. Time marches on. This is one exhibit I shall remember for some time. This was a new discovery. Last year the discovery for me was Charlotte Perriand.

I wonder what each year may bring and am excited for this wonderful opportunity of visiting Paris each year. It is my intention to come as long as I can travel which I hope will be for a long time to come.

As always, thank you for reading Not Just A Jewish Book Blog.

Click here: WB Exhibition Main - Otis College of Art and Design