Marilyn Zimmerman

Marilyn Zimmerman, like too many feminist photographers in recent years, found herself of the front lines of the culture wars when she battled censors who claimed that photographs of her three year old daughter in the bathtub and at her birthday party could be child pornography and she should be prosecuted. In 1993, her home and office at Wayne State University were raided by Detroit police who had been tipped off by a janitor claiming that a contact sheet "looked like porn" to him. The prosecutor's investigation ended after a nationwide response from artists, curators and scholars attested to Zimmerman's significance as an American artist and educator, and to the historical context for works of art that have shown nudes, including children, such as those by Mary Cassatt, Kathe Kollwitz and many others. But this dramatic attack on female nudity in a feminist context will remain a constant reminder of both the artist's power in contemporary culture and the need to challenge "shame-filled projections which culturally bind" any female body (Zimmerman, "Mother May I? The Politics of Privacy" The Detroit Focus Quarterly, 1995). In addition to her work on the construction of gender, Zimmerman has also coordinated and collaborated with other artists on photographic projects such as "Woodward Avenue: Rephotographic Project" and "Demolished by Neglect" which document Detroit's urban decay and reconstruction.

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