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Envisioned

Olivia Gay | Global

Yuleisy, Jinetera, Cuba 2997

Photographer Olivia Gay renders a form of justice—visibility for women who have been marginalized or neglected by society at large. She photographs women who work as waitresses, cashiers, prostitutes, nuns, factory workers, domestic workers. She photographs African and Palestinian women living in refugee camps; she photographs women in prison. Her goal is nothing less than to explore the image of women in society. She takes her time, often seven years or more—allowing mutual respect, trust, and understanding to deepen. And from that process the photographs emerge.

Her project is called Envisagées, or Envisioned, referring to the process of rendering visible what has been invisible. The French word also contains the word “visage,” or face, which is often the locus of Gay’s attention.

Olivia Gay’s interest is not—like many documentary photographers—tocapture the most vivid gestures, telegraphing quickly the heart of the scene, whether of a battle or café life. Instead Gay and the woman she is photographing face each other with all that they have gained in their relationship.

Ellen Feldman

For over 20 years, Olivia Gay (b. 1973) has been photographing women who work as waitresses, cashiers, prostitutes, nuns, factory workers, domestic workers; women living in refugee camps; women in prison. She takes her time, often seven years or more—allowing mutual respect, trust, and understanding to deepen. And from that process the photographs emerge. Her latest project is called Envisagées, or Envisioned, referring to the process of rendering visible what has been kept invisible. The French word also contains the word “visage,” or face, often the locus of Gay’s attention.

Olivia Gay received the prestigious Prix HSBC for photography (Prix Joy Henderiks) in 2018. Her work has appeared in solo exhibits throughout Europe and in Brazil, in venues including Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, 2018 and Fondation Mast, Bologna, 2015.

Gay lives and works in Normandy, France, and teaches photography (history and technique) at the University Panthéon - La Sorbonne, Paris. She studied Art History at the University of Bordeaux, and Photography at the New England School of Photography, Boston. In 2016, she graduated from Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie (ENSP), Arles, France.

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