The pioneer of Basque photography visits Enkarterri

Two sardineras pose for Eulalia Abaitua near the Hanging Bridge. Courtesy of the Basque Museum of Bilbao

Exchange of exhibitions between Bilbao and Sopuerta. The exhibition of Antonio de Trueba is already in the Ondare hall, while the exhibition dedicated to the pioneer of Basque photography Eulalia Abaitua, which can be seen until November 30, arrives at the Museum of Encartaciones. The larger space available makes it possible to exhibit seventy images, twice as many as in her previous period in the exhibition hall of the General Assembly of Bizkaia. All of them on loan from the Basque Museum in the Biscayan capital.

Facing the prejudices about women prevailing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Eulalia Abaitua took the camera to portray “part of the female world of more than a hundred years ago, women in their clothes and trades in real scenarios”. “No need to imagine” this universe of hard work that this Bilbao-born woman was able to know thanks to the training on photography provided by a stay in England when the trade was just emerging.

“Without being intimidated by the discrimination that existed at that time”, as the president of the General Assembly, Ana Otadui, pointed out on the day of the presentation of the exhibition, she focused her lens on “people, occupations, situations and places ranging from the incipient industrial Bilbao to the most rural Bizkaia”, according to the Encartaciones Museum. Her way of capturing reality “evokes that of a graphic reporter” with her black and white snapshots” in relation to a social reality “on the margins, devalued, forgotten and invisible until then”. The titles: “Sardineras, Conchita en Elorrio, María Costa y Asunción / costureras, La vieja de Mañaria”, “Gitanas Santuchu Elorrio hilanderas / hermanas de Ubidea, Lechera, Lavanderas en las Arenas… speak of “modest and industrious women, with a great deal of dignity and natural elegance that contrasts with the predominant female bourgeois code”.

In addition, Eulalia Abaitua Allende-Salazar was the granddaughter of the deputy general of Bizkaia Castor María Allende-Salazar Urkijo, “who ordered the planting of the Tree of Gernika that survived the bombing”. A family inheritance that is also mentioned in the exhibition.

The photographer’s legacy has survived “thanks to the research and compilation work of Maite Jiménez Ochoa de Alda, curator of the exhibition”. Currently, the Basque Museum of Bilbao has 2,500 images of Eulalia Abaitua and the seventy selected for the Museum of Encartaciones with the aim of opening the focus to a broader reality “contextualizing the harsh world of women” are framed in “the reproductions that the Basque Museum published in 1990 in the exhibition called Gure Aurreko Andrak / Basque Women of Yesterday.

First in Bilbao

As a result of the collaboration between the Basque Museum and the Juntas Generales, the work of Eulalia Abaitua can be even more appreciated in the halls of the Encartaciones Museum in Sopuerta after receiving more than 1,500 views in the exhibition that remained open in Bilbao between March and April.

In Figures

Until November 30

November. After passing through the exhibition hall of the headquarters of the General Assembly in the capital receiving more than 1,500 visits, the exhibition with works by Eulalia Abaitua can be admired in the Museum of the Encartaciones until November 30.

From 34 to 70

Twice as many images. The dimensions of the rooms allow practically to double the number of exposed photographies: from the 34 of Bilbao to the 70 of Sopuerta. They compose a portrait of the struggle of “modest and hard-working” women at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.

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