F.to: 16,5×21; BN; rileg. rigida.
Editore: Artspace Books, San Francisco, 1996.
Photographer Zoe Leonard and Filmmaker Cheryl Dunye have created a riveting fictional character, Fae Richards 1908-1973. The black actress and singer, Richards emerges as an elegant and dynamic performer who resists typecasting. In glimpses of her personal life, we see a passionate woman who consistently breaks out of the social restrictions of her era.
By providing images as clues: snapshots, film stills, publicity photos, and a few brief captions, the archive invites speculation about her life. We see evidence of her evolving identity: her relationships with Martha Page and June Walker, her work in Hollywood and later in black-cast “race films.” By experimenting with photographic conventions and borrowing from the lives of historical figures, Leonard and Dunye challenge the lines of race, class, and sexuality in history.
Although Fae Richards never lived, she is drawn from the lives of many people. Her story, though fictional, is plausible. She stands as an homage to women whose lives are not recorded.
The photographs were taken by Zoe Leonard, based on a character conceived by Cheryl Dunye, and they are used in Cherly Dunye’s film “The Watermelon Woman”(1996).