The International Center for Photography (ICP) held a combined benefit reception, silent auction, luncheon and panel discussion at the Tribecca Rooftop located at 2 Debrosses Street. Since I never heard of Debrosses Street, I knew that I was embarking on a Manhattan excursion which involved being armed with map and compass to avoid a close encounter with the Holland Tunnel. Once safely inside this posh you have to be in the know unmarked venue, I was plied with drinks and made immediately to feel welcome at an event which combined brilliant women and great food.

The ICP is involved with photography directed toward social change in contemporary culture. The organization, which provides thousands of classes and workshops, embraces photography’s ability to open opportunities for aesthetic expression, to transform popular culture and to incorporate new technology.

The silent auction material was presented with a reception consisting of two tables laden with the following delicious food: stuffed grape leaves, roasted vegetables, eggplant salad, mixed mushroom salad, roasted vegetables, and some cheese sodden pie concoction which was fattening to the extent that I could not identify it. Passed hors d’oeuvres assuaged any possible hunger cravings. In the midst of munching and chomping, I checked out the silent auction which included private studio visits with photographers Lillian Bassman and Elliott Erwitt. The stipulated value of these visits: priceless. And then it was time to enter a large room festooned with beautifully appointed tables to have lunch. My roasted chicken, salad, and goat cheese portion was relegated to a doggie bag. I mean, who can eat when there are super talented women to listen to.

I enjoyed the panel moderated by TODAY SHOW anchor Ann Curry and consisting of historic trend photographer Samantha Appleton, family narrative photographer Gillian Laub, humanism focused photographer Mary Ellen Mark, gender and human rights photographer Stephanie Sinclair, and NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE director of photography Kathy Ryan. The discussion focused upon juxtaposing gender, empathy, and documenting trauma. Panelists stressed that women can create intimacy better then men because they are less threatening. The concluding remarks centered on the relation between photography technology and the future. The panel as a whole agreed that photoshoping (creating a composite image) is a false collage which does not reflect the truth.

To say the least, this was a very busy event! The organizes pulled off the balancing act they created very successfully. I left full of very good food and very good ideas. Just before I exited through that unmarked door, I asked Ms. Ryan do say hello to my childhood friend who is a TIMES photo editor. After I explained that “we’re talking here big time Barbie doll mode,” she graciously agreed. Women do these little thing for each other to picture and to create a better world.

– Marleen Barr

Photos courtesy of Image Singuliere.