Ilse Fusková

1929 · Argentina

Ilse Fusková is a Porteña photographer whose by turns irreverent and quiet art, for those same qualities, has been left to collect dust at the bottom of a chest. “La libertad de pasear sola” (The Freedom of Wandering Alone), a small survey of her work curated by María Laura Rosa, brings Fusková, an artist as unknown as she is active, out into the light.

Fusková’s early photographs bear witness to small stories, domestic and tender situations of the everyday. Her career is unusual. She set out not to become a professional artist, but a journalist. She worked as a stewardess, wrote film columns for magazines, and photographed the world. Primarily, however, Fusková made images as she walked down the streets of Buenos Aires in the mid-twentieth century. A woman wandering the boulevards of an austral metropolis—observing it, contemplating it—was not, in those years, a common sight.

Her work changed in the ’70s, when she joined the Movimiento de Liberación Femenina. Her gentle images of tricycles, the elderly, her neighbors, writers, painters, and activists were replaced by strident symbolism. For “El Zapallo” (The Pumpkin), a series of nude self-portraits from 1982, Fusková straddles a split-open squash. The vegetable becomes a natural expression of the feminine: Eros, power, refuge, womb, cave, rest, and nourishment.

By then, Fusková had started collaborating with recognized artists, which is to say that she had entered the professional art circuit. With her body at center stage alongside her feminist and lesbian activism, Fusková, now ninety years old, has only recently received due recognition. Whether she turned her camera on the ambulatory views of Argentina’s capital or on herself, her sensitive, poetic visions deserve to be seen.

Ilse Fusková