Last fall, The Washington Post partnered with Visura in an open call for photo essays. The Post selected two winners and three honorable mentions out of hundreds of submissions. We are presenting one of the honorable-mention winners today here on In Sight: Los Angeles-based photographer Martina Albertazzi and her work, “Break a Thread.”
Not long ago, Albertazzi decided she wanted to do a project about performers and eventually settled on the subject of magicians because, she said, “magic felt the most appropriate in a city where everything seems to be a mirage.”
Albertazzi reached out to female magicians she found through Instagram and started documenting their onstage lives. To date, she has photographed 12 artists of varying backgrounds.
Some have performed abroad, as well as domestically; some are full-time magicians while others have separate careers; some are also actors. But, according to Albertazzi, they have one thing in common: “All of them are storytellers who are working hard to fight the stereotypes that still run deep in the world of magic.”
Albertazzi told In Sight more about her project:
“Magic used to be just for men. For many centuries, women who showed any interest in it were viewed as witches, which could lead to a quick death sentence. Men, on the other hand, could become very famous practicing sorcery, as it was one of the most appreciated forms of entertainment.
“During the ‘Golden Age of Magic’ (1880-1930), men ran the show while young, scantily clad women waited to be cut in half. It all served to give the male magician a sense of power and control on stage. But some women, mostly magician’s wives, were able to break into the male-dominated field and often received equal billing. Names like Mercedes Talma, Kittie Baldwin and Adelaide Herrmann became famous in Europe and in the U.S., as they mastered the most popular tricks and drew large crowds of enthusiasts to their shows.
“Women still only account for about 5 percent of memberships to magic societies today. At the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, the most prestigious magic club in the city, 90 percent of the members are men. But women are working hard to change that.
“Once a month, the Women Magicians Association meets to exchange secrets and offer feedback, encouraging everyone (even beginners) to practice in front of a small audience and discuss the status of the industry.”
You can see more of Albertazzi’s work on her website here.
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