Modern and Contemporary Art, the History of Photography, Gender and Queer Theory.
Alyssa’s dissertation, “Ellen Auerbach’s Transnational Attachments: Photography, Gender, and the Grey Zones of Modernity” follows the career of the German Jewish photographer Ellen Auerbach across Germany, Palestine, and the U.S. Auerbach is best known through her collaboration with Grete Stern as the photography duo ringl+pit and were acclaimed in Berlin for their experimental commercial women’s advertisements. In 1933, ringl+pit closed due to the rise of National Socialism, and Auerbach continued her photographic practice abroad. In Palestine, she produced children’s portraiture and made photographs for the Women’s International Zionist Organization. In the U.S. she produced child development films for the Menninger Clinic. A study of Auerbach’s body of work not only explores the relations between photography and gendered labor but also the connections between mother-child relationships, nation-building projects, and idealized performances of citizenship. Ultimately, my study sheds light on the ways that modernist aesthetics were wielded towards both radical and regressive ends in the mid-twentieth century.