The anthological exhibition presents 156 photographs that tell the story of one of the most important photojournalists of the 20th century. From 17 March to 16 July, in the Sale Chiablese of Turin's Royal Museums

Ruth Orkin was many things: photojournalist, filmmaker, author with her husband Morris Engel of the independent feature film Little fugitive, awarded the Silver Lion at the 1953 Venice Film Festival. Born in Boston in 1921, she grew up in Hollywood where her mother, Mary Ruby, was an established silent film actress. At the age of ten, she received her first camera as a gift, a Univex costing 39 cents, and immediately began experimenting by photographing friends and teachers at school. At 17, she decided to cycle across America, leaving from Los Angeles and arriving in New York for the 1939 World's Fair. Ruth Orkin was many things, but above all she was a modern, courageous woman who wanted to be a filmmaker and who, opposed by an exclusively male world like that of cinema in those years, had to find her place elsewhere, not giving up on her dream, but approaching it in a different way, creating a singularly rich and new language through photography.

Reinventing Photography

The exhibition Ruth Orkin: A New Discovery, curated by Anne Morin, brings together 156 photographs that tell the story of one of the most important personalities of 20th century photography, approaching her work from a completely new perspective between still and moving images. "As a curator and historian of photography," explains Anne Morin, "it has always seemed to me that Ruth Orkin's work has not received the recognition it deserves. Yet if this photographer has a fascinating destiny, her work is equally so. Ruth Orkin's photographic work is about images, film, stories and, ultimately, life. This exhibition is the definitive affirmation of the work of a woman who invented another kind of photography."

Narration through images

The exhibition reveals the mechanisms that evoke the ghost of cinema in his work. As in his first Road Movie of 1939 when, while cycling across the United States, he updated a diary punctuated by film sequences documenting a travel report. Inspired by the notebooks and albums in which his mother documented the filming of her films, and using the same type of handwritten captions, Orkin inserts the photographic image into a narrative that resembles the scheme of cinematic progression, almost as if the photographs were still images of a film that was never shot and of which 22 pages are displayed.

Filming by photographing

The exhibition also features works such as The Card Players or Jimmy Tells a Story, from 1947, in which Orkin uses the camera to film, or rather, to fix moments, leaving it up to the viewer's eye to compose the scene and reproduce the movement, as well as the images and the film Little Fugitive (1953), nominated for an Oscar for Best Film Story and winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Social photography

In the 1940s, she moved to New York, became a member of the Photo League (a cooperative of photographers who - recognising the teachings of Lewis Hine, who defined their work as social photography in order to differentiate it from pure reportage in terms of methods and intentions - shared the conviction that photography was art and that its aesthetics were an essential vehicle for the message), and began to collaborate with important magazines, establishing herself as one of the most authoritative female signatures. During this period, she took some of the most interesting shots of her career: with the series From Above she captured perpendicularly from a window what was happening on the street, filming people unaware that they were the object of her photographic gaze: a group of ladies feeding stray cats; two policemen cordoning off a worn-out mattress abandoned in the street; some little girls twirling around.

Time and its passing

Many years later, he will return to this genre of shots: from a window overlooking Central Park, he will repropose the same gesture and the same framing, in the alternation of the seasons, recording the physiognomy of the trees, the hue of the leaves: the subject is time and its flowing in a sequence that narrates the elasticity of filmic time.

A visionary gaze

The largest anthological exhibition ever held on one of the most important photojournalists of the 20th century, whose work is still little known today, to discover and get to know a sensitive artist. A careful reflection on the different languages that allowed her to assert herself in the panorama of world photography, testifying to the visionary nature of a gaze still to be explored, faithful to the narrative of an era in which the affirmation of gender was a distant conquest, even in the artistic sphere.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Skira.