The MNAC highlights the career of a pioneering photographer: Mey Rahola

The MNAC highlights the career of a pioneering photographer: Mey Rahola
bonart barcelona - 22/11/22

From November 25, 2022 to May 29, 2023, the MNAC presents the work of the photographer Mey Rahola, an exhibition curated by Lluís Bertran, Roser Martínez and Roser Cambray entitled Mey Rahola (1897-1959). The new photographer. This exhibition is the result of the rescue of her archive and the recovery of the story of a photographer who saw how the Civil War and subsequent exile in France cut short a career that was just beginning. Despite the fact that his name and his work have been forgotten for more than eighty years, Rahola wanted to bequeath an artist's work, ordered and signed which is now presented for the first time in a retrospective exhibition.

Mey Rahola (León, 1897-Vaucresson, 1959) was one of the first women to make a name for herself in the field of artistic photography in Spain. In a very short time, between 1934 and 1936, his hobby acquired a public dimension through exhibitions, prizes and publications. Rahola va ser una de les poques fotògrafes que va gaudir del reconeixement dels cercles fotogràfics catalans durant la II República espanyola. In a still rigidly patriarchal environment, she was part of the women of her generation who decisively entered spaces previously reserved for men. Fond of both photography and sailing, Rahola identified with the emancipatory ideal of the "modern woman" and challenged traditional gender roles. Open to everything, enterprising, ironic when necessary, she practiced modern photography with which she contributed to renewing ways of seeing a world undergoing accelerated transformation.

Asserting herself as a photographer beyond the family sphere, Mey Rahola participated in the construction of the new role of women in the public sphere during the Second Republic: an independent, traveling, empathetic and ironic woman. War and exile cut short this promising career, but she continued to take ambitious photographs, professionally during World War II and later as an amateur.

Mey Rahola was a photographer in every possible way for a woman of her time: modern amateur with public projection in salons and contests, professional with a brief vocation as a photojournalist, and finally a humanist photographer away from the public light. She bequeathed a work of authorship, signed and ordered, but which has remained forgotten for more than half a century. His personal fund has been lost in history and has remained scattered in the family for many years.

For the first time, the National Museum highlights the career of this pioneering photographer. In addition, during 2020 and 2021, a total of 14 of his works have been acquired, through the National Photography Plan, which can be seen in the exhibition. This, of an anthological nature, follows a chronological itinerary in three stages that reflect the transformations of his photographic practice, which at the same time follow each other at the pace of the great political crises of the century: 1931-1936, 1937-1945 and 1946-1959 . It is presented as a triptych that emphasizes the coherence of a trajectory that is constantly attentive to the concerns of its time despite the historical ruptures.

Simultaneously, the Museu de l'Empordà will present an exhibition that will emphasize the photographic genre in which Mey Rahola stood out the most in the 1930s, that of marines. Like photography, sports sailing was for her a space of emancipation and affirmation to which the Civil War, with its trail of destruction and exile, put an end to it. There are, however, traces of that modern idyll that allow today to reconstruct it and reveal the look and artistic trajectory of a unique woman.

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