Jessica Williams Stark
Jessica Williams Stark studies modern African art history with an emphasis on the continent's histories of photography. Her dissertation, “Anne Fischer: South African Photography and the Modernist Lens,” examines the unheralded photographs that Fischer, a German-Jewish refugee to Cape Town, produced in pre-apartheid South Africa and post-war England. Through close attention to Fischer's photographs and their circulation, Stark explores how this young Weimar woman mobilized German modernist aesthetics in her new colonial context and considers how her gendered experiences of exile inflected the work she later produced in London. The first monograph on Fischer, her project ultimately demonstrates how South African art histories, although historically sidelined in narratives of art, have had significant implications for the development of transnational modernisms in Africa and Europe.
Stark’s research has been generously supported by the Peter E. Palmquist Foundation, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, the Fulbright Program, and the Foreign Language and Area Studies Program. Her most recent work can be found in October (Summer 2020) and in Women and Photography in Africa: Creative Practices and Feminist Challenges (2020) and is additionally forthcoming in Urban Exile: Theories, Methods, Research Practices (2021).