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Eye to Eye


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Photographs of lesbians from different ages and backgrounds in their everyday lives-working, playing, raising families, and striving to remake their worlds.

About the Author

Joan E. Biren (JEB) is an award-winning documentary photographer and filmmaker. She is best known for her groundbreaking work in chronicling the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. In 1979, Biren self-published her first book, Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians, a pivotal work that documented the everyday lives of lesbians in the United States. Her second book, Making a Way: Lesbians Out Front, was released in 1987. JEB has been featured in many notable publications, including The New York Times, Vogue, and The Atlantic. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the Leslie-Lohman Museum in New York, the national Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and the Academy of Arts in Berlin, Germany among other places.


The release of Eye to Eye signalled a new way of seeing, reversing a history of invisibility. To me, this book is iconic. It's a piece of our collective queer inheritance. It's a document of all the struggles lesbian elders went through to enable us to have safer and freer lives. Its reissue, by Anthology Editions, symbolises a long-overdue validation of this critically important work. - It's Nice That, March 2021
Today, in an era characterized by an ubiquity of pictures in our daily lives, the truly radical nature of JEB's project is hard to grasp. But at the time (Is it really 40 years ago!) she was creating a distinctive body of documentary pictures that was unprecedented, representing women-identified women who were viewed as outliers not only by mainstream culture but, oddly, by most feminists. -Blind Magazine, March 2021
Eye To Eye serves as a vital document of LGBTQ+ history. -AnOther, Feb. 2021
Originally self-published by JEB in 1979, it documented intimate moments between lesbians of all ages and backgrounds as they encountered day-to-day life. Each page showcases the beauty and resilience of lesbians as they work, play, raise families, fall in love and shape the world as we know it today. -Diva Magazine, February 2021
The momentous reception that awaited Eye to Eye on its release demonstrated the burning desire for authentic representation. JEB published the images widely, in books and on postcards, posters, calendars, in newspapers, and exhibited in her touring "Dyke Show". Women wrote letters thanking her for saving their lives, recalling how, after seeing her images, an unfamiliar feeling of pride overwhelmed them. Eye to Eye provided women with a mirror to reflect the possibilities of what they could be or what they already were. -i-D/ Vice, February 2021

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