I came across this image of the Egyptian pyramid on Facebook through my dear friend Deniz Güner’s feed. It struck me immediately by the humorous contrast and stark simplicity. I didn’t know Judy Dater as an architectural photographer before.
A simple google search reveals that she was a well-known portrait photographer and feminist from California. So, it is natural that she didn’t appear on my radar before. She was best known with her Imogen and Twinka at Yosemite photo in 1974.
The above photograph of the pyramid with a snacks booth is from a series of photographs she took during her visit to Egypt in 1979.
Just a few of her photographs from this series include architectural and built environment subjects, such as below.
I like this kind of approach to document the built environment, which frames the contrasting elements in an unexpected and sometimes amusing way. They deliver information about the social context in a subtle but striking way. For instance, Bas Princen’s works are based on a similar understanding.
By looking at Judy Dater’s these two photographs, we understand that in 1979’s Egypt tourism was something that is yet to flourish. I don’t think we can now see (or rather to say I don’t hope to see) a Pepsi signed booth next to the Giza pyramid. Tourism became an important sector of the economy from 1975 onwards, as Egypt eased visa restrictions for almost all European and North American countries. Judy Dater’s visit is also the result of Egypt’s efforts to open the country to tourism, just after signing the peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
So, today’s gain under Corona lockdown: I’m introduced to Judy Dater’s works with some basic historical background of Egypt when a photograph grabbed my attention on Facebook. Thank you, Deniz.
More about Judy Dater: http://judydater.com/biography