Donna Ferrato's images of 'battered women, activists, migrant workers, and more' are a call-to-action for women
Renowned documentary photographer Donna Ferrato doesn't shy away from life's darker sides and uglier truths.
Back in 1982, one of her images was named by TIME Magazine as one of the "100 Most Influential Photographs of All Time." It showed a woman being hit by her husband.
"Ferrato set out to make the profane—the archetypal woman who proffered the forbidden fruit—sacred," writes Claudia Dowling in the book's introduction. "To disobey, to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is not, in Donna's Eden, the Original Sin. The real sin is obedience not to seek knowledge."
Having long photographed issues such as domestic violence, it's little surprise that much of Ferrato's work comes from a place of outrage at the treatment of women in a world that still seems to have them. Her new book, Holy, exemplifies both her anger and her empathy. According to its publisher Powerhouse Books, Holy is "an encapsulation of [Ferrato's] anger; a compendium of her empathy; a 176-page vessel of her love; a lifetime of her commitment."
Her images, broadly speaking, show women's survival within battles against the patriarchy. They delineate what they're fighting for in those battles – from the boardroom to the bedroom, from the sexual revolution of the '60s to the #metoo era of today.
These global issues are married with the highly personal stance of the book. Ferrato's images, many of which are being shown for the first time, "reveal women's bodies in all their monstrous glory–even her own," says the publisher. The women she photographs, and who form the book's subjects, are women who've been the victims of domestic violence, activists, migrant workers, swingers and more. Together, the photographs form a call to action for women to embrace their instincts, power, and strength and embrace and support one another.
"There used to be a time when [Donna's] story of women was split, over there the 'domestic violence' work and over here the 'sex work,'" writes Kat Holden in her essay in the book. "The combination of the two is vital. It is only in that combination that we see the whole spectrum of the truth of what it is to be a woman. The contradictions we are expected to embody, the virgin and the whore, the vulnerable and invincible, the mother and the daughter."