With enormous pleasure and in partnership with Saint Lucy Books, Light Work announces Rhode Island-based artist Odette England as the recipient of the 2021 Light Work Photobook Award for her monograph, Dairy Character. Light Work gives the Photobook Award annually to an artistic project that deserves international attention. “Odette England’s Dairy Character is an insightful and distinct book that looks at rural life, parenthood, and femininity,” said Light Work director Dan Boardman. “Odette’s work exemplifies our mission to support emerging and under-represented artists. Her approach to the artist book is wholly her own and blurs the boundaries between archive, narrative, and memoir. We’re excited to collaborate with Saint Lucy’s on publication. “
The monograph is available for pre-order in Light Work’s shop with anticipated delivery in September 2021. As the winner of the 2021 Photobook Award, England’s book will appear as the Book Collectors’ selection in Light Work’s exclusive 2022 Annual Subscription program.
It’s a wonderful, unexpected honor, to have this work recognized by Light Work and to be in the company of previous winners, including Mark McKnight, Andres Gonzalez, and Rose Marie Cromwell,” said Odette England. “I’m grateful for a light to be shone on rural girls and women, on how they’re frequently excluded or marginalized from important resources, and on the division of gender and labor that prevails. To make a photobook that makes palpable the emotional quotient of growing up girl when the loudest, strongest voices didn’t sound like my own, and to illustrate and contextualize a kind of wrestling with how things are placed onto our bodies by others as well as by history and ancestry, has been challenging but also revealing. It’s as much a photographic autopsy and critique of my relationship to a place I still call home but live no longer, as it is a focus on the inner lives and expectations of rural girls and women.
Dairy Character is a loose chronicle of England’s experience growing up on a rural dairy farm in southern Australia. Combining recent photographs, family snapshots, archival images, and autobiographical short stories, England examines the male-dominated farming community where she was raised and the gender-based repression that rural women and girls experience. Her images and texts evoke a girl introduced to reproductive labor at an early age. A girl who wanted a pink room. A girl fenced in by interconnecting forms of vulnerability. A girl who had a cow named after her.
Saint Lucy Books / Light Work
Signed by the artist
Odette England is an artist and writer who uses photography, performance, writing, and the archive to explore themes of autobiography, land, gender, and ritual. She edited the critically acclaimed book, Keeper of the Hearth: Picturing Roland Barthes’ Unseen Photograph (Schilt, 2020). Public collections holding England’s work include the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, George Eastman Museum, Museum of Contemporary Photography, New Mexico Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, and Texas A&M University. In 2021, Radius Books published her collaboration with Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Past Paper // Present Marks: Responding to Rauschenberg.
About Saint Lucy Books
Mark Alice Durant launched Saint Lucy Books in 2011. Saint Lucy is devoted to writing about photography and contemporary art. Saint Lucy features essays, portfolios, and wide-ranging conversations with artists, writers, and curators. Saint Lucy Books publishes idiosyncratic books that combine words and images to investigate the marginal, hidden, and parallel histories of photography. Both Aperture and Paris Photo shortlisted Hidden Mother for Best Photobook of the Year, among its many accolades and enthusiastic reviews. Reviewing 27 Contexts in 4 Columns, UCLA art historian George Baker writes, “Durant’s writing—his storytelling—is often thrilling, wrenching, beautiful.” Of Friends, Enemies, and Strangers, Marvin Heiferman writes, “One of our shrewdest image-makers and takers, Oliver Wasow pits the sentimental against the sinister, nature against human nature, and private lives against public ones.”