BY Angel Lambo in Opinion | 08 MAR 23

Editor’s Picks: International Women’s Day Edition

Spotlighting Gail Rebhan’s About Time, the legacy of Black women writers, A.V. Rockwell’s first feature film and an urgent podcast about trans joy and politics

BY Angel Lambo in Opinion | 08 MAR 23

About Time, Gail Rebhan

There’s a special thrill to the vicarious nostalgia of viewing someone else’s family photo album. Gail Rebhan’s About Time (2023) is a beautifully-produced record of four decades of the photographer’s professional career, but it is also a chaotic family album, punctuated with insightful commentary by her long-time friend the art historian Sally Stein. Rebhan’s photo series pry below the surface of family relationships, recording activities as mundane as their titles suggest: Mark and Lill select a turkey (1980), Younger Cousins watch television (1980), Alan holds his three-week old son, David (1983). Despite the familiarity of the scenes, I am compelled by the precision of Rebhan’s gaze to linger a little on each frame.

Gail Rabhan, About Time
Gail Rabhan, About Time, 2023. Courtesy: Mack Books

Some of the relationships are uncomfortable, even painful. In the series Mother-Son Talksnippets of conversations between the photographer and her pre-adolescent son dance across the pages. The images are sometimes witty and insightful. However, as Rebhan starts to see signs of the child’s socialisation into misogyny and xenophobia., they become frightening. 

Gail Rabhan, About Time
Gail Rabhan, About Time, 2023. Courtesy: Mack Books

The latter half of the book concerns her father’s decline as dementia slowly strips him of the English language. He eventually reverts to the German and Yiddish of his childhood. Half-page snaps of paraphernalia relating to incontinence follow: a packet of Dulcolax, adult nappies and disposable bedsheets. He eventually disappears from the page. Rebhan’s work raises questions about image-making, motherhood, the burden of care and the ways we mark the passage of time. In an age where the present feels like an ever-repeating knock-off of the past, About Time is a powerful escape. 

A Thousand and One, A.V. Rockwell

The Queens-raised director A.V. Rockwell makes her feature debut with a film she described on Twitter as ‘a love letter to mothers, sons, and hustlers of NYC’. A Thousand and One (2023) stars Teyana Taylor as a fiercely protective mother who kidnaps her son from the foster family raising him. The film takes the audience from 1990s New York to the new millennium and traces the family’s struggles in a rapidly gentrifying and hostile Harlem. A Thousand and One won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival last month. The theatrical release date is March 31. 


Black Women Writers at Work, ed. Claudia Tate

In my previous Editor’s Picks I included Atelier Éditions’s Why I Make Art (2021), a collection of contemporary artists’ interviews on the motivation behind their passions. In a similar vein comes Black Women Writers at Work (2023). This inspiring compendium collects interviews with Maya Angelou, Gayl Jones, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, and others, discussing why and for whom they write. 

Black Women Writers at Work
Claudia Tate, Black Women Writers at Work, 2023. Courtesy: Haymarket Books

A new foreword by sociologist and poet Eve Ewing grounds Black Women Writers at Work (2023) in a much-needed critical approach, highlighting how these Black women laid a foundation for subsequent generations. The book has been decades out of print: we need these voices more than ever.

TransLash Podcast

It’s only March but over 300 anti-trans bills have been submitted to US courts, according to the lifestyle and politics magazine Them. In response to the increased criminalisation and marginalisation of LGBTQ+ people, I’ve searched for podcasts that platform their voices.

Imara Jones is the Emmy-award winning host behind TransLash, a show that topped many recommended listening lists last year. Each episode opens with a moment of trans joy before getting into the nitty-gritty. Various guests share their thoughts on topics including trans motherhood, sex and reproductive justice. No topic is too big or too small. As the tagline proclaims, ‘TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives.’

'Gail Rebhan: About Time' is on view at the American University Museum until 21 May 

Main image: Gail Rabhan,
About Time, 2023. Courtesy: MACK Books

Angel Lambo is associate editor of frieze. She lives in Berlin.