Photographing protest: Resistance through a feminist lens

Four Corners’ new exhibition reveals striking protest images by feminist photographers who have used their cameras to support social and political change in Britain

Charlotte Hodges
Saturday 19 March 2022 00:01
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<p>Femi Otitoju, right, at the Lesbian Strength March in London on 22 June 1985</p>

Femi Otitoju, right, at the Lesbian Strength March in London on 22 June 1985

The new exhibition, Photographing Protest: Resistance through a feminist lens, focuses on the perspectives of women and non-binary photographers over decades of protests to pose a challenge to the male-dominated history of demonstrations.

From sit-ins to street theatre, candlelight vigils to deportation campaigns, the exhibition showing at Four Corners gallery, foregrounds the work of activist photographers for whom the acts of witnessing and participating in protest are intrinsically linked.

It opens with rarely seen images by Sally Fraser, who captured the defining social movements of the 1968 era such as the fiery beginnings of the Women’s Liberation movement, and leads on to the protests of the 1980s and 1990s, such as the Greenham Common women’s peace camps and Reclaim the Night marches, taken by the all-women photo agency Format.

Alongside these, the exhibition explores a new generation of photographers, including The Independent contributor Angela Christofilou, who are engaging with contemporary struggles, such as anti-racism, LGBTQI+ community rights and climate justice among others, to ask how feminist protest photography can be an agent for today’s political change.

Women’s Liberation March, London, 1971

Photographer Pam Isherwood being moved on at an International Day of Disarmament protest in 1983

Kill the Bill protest in May 2021

Part of the Hackney Flashers documentary photography project, Who’s Holding the Baby?, which showed the lack of childcare and impact this had on women’s lives. The image featured at the Three Perspectives on Photography exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1979

TUC Women’s Rally in 1975

Trans rights protest in London on 4 July 2020

Youth CND demo on 7 May 1983

Nurses picketing outside Bart’s Hospital in London, striking over low pay, unfair salary structures and untenable working conditions, in February 1988

People protesting outside Yarl’s Wood immigration centre in 2015

Rebecca Johnson being arrested at Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in 1984

Reclaim the Night protest on 20 January 1979

The Photographing Protest: Resistance through a feminist lens exhibition is showing at Four Corners in Bethnal Green from 18 March–30 April 2022 and is free.

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