The unique perspective of “Women with Cameras”


The Minneapolis Institute of Art’s newest exhibit is an exploration of women in a America, shown in the ways they want(ed) to be seen, portrayed, remembered.

Compiled by photographer Anne Collier, Women with Cameras is a collection of photographic self-portraits found in the both the most likely and unlikely places: bought online, found at small town markets, or in the dusty bins in antique stores. They will be shown as a slideshow for the exhibit, which opened yesterday (Thursday, September 7) and runs through December 17.

It offers a look into the lives, and the women living them, in a way that has now been commercialized and mass produced (with so many new filters!); as selfies and Instagram (etc) are now the normalized, and the seemingly only, way to show the world your beauty, lifestyle, worldview, worth, this collection is an an intimate display of the way women saw themselves, and wanted to capture themselves, before the world of social media.

Anne Collier, Selected slide from Women with Cameras (Self Portrait), 2017, 35mm slides, 35mm slide projector, pedestal stand, and base, dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist; Anton Kern Gallery, New York; Galerie Neu, Berlin; The Modern Institute/ Toby Webster Ltd., Glasgow; Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles © Anne Collier

Does that add a different sense of immediacy to MIA’s latest exhibit? A more powerful punch as we stare into the eyes of these women, in the sort of way Andy Warhol’s pop art reminded us of the importance of things that have become so ubiquitous they’ve sort of simply faded into the background?

(How long do we spend just scrolling through, looking but not really seeing, pics on Instagram?)

I dunno. Maybe.

As Collier told City Pages in a recent interview,

“I think it’s a form of empowerment for anybody, male or female, because you’re doing something and you’re controlling the outcome and it’s an opportunity for you to explore the ideas of self and identity. I’m not sure there’s a huge difference between the motivation for doing it. It’s just weird that you have it on your Instagram feed now, right?”

But don’t expect it to be easy: Collier displays the photographs with no context or words from herself or the subjects. No hashtags or witty taglines to make facial expressions, bodily poses, outfits, settings, and all of their inner workings, more apparent to the viewer.

It’s up to you to meet them halfway.

And maybe it will make you think a little differently about the way you’re portraying yourself the next time you snap a selfie to share with your friends, family, and the world.


Women with Cameras (Self Portrait)

Minneapolis Institute of Art | 2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404 | (612) 870-3000

Sep. 7 – Dec. 17 | Free admission