Franki Raffles’s Lot’s Wife: A ‘Reinvented Documentary’ for a Feminist Art of Knowledge Production
This dissertation examines Lot’s Wife,a black and white photographic project that was almost completed in 1994. The project, partly funded by the Wingate Trust Scholarship, is comprisedof texts and photographs that document the lives of Russian women, some of them also Jewish, who immigrated to Israel following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Sadly, the work was left incomplete after the untimely death of its creator, the Scottish feminist documentary photographer Franki Raffles, in 1994; it was never exhibited or published in a book format, as was initially planned.1The title of the project is taken from the biblical story of Lot’s wife, a woman mentioned in Genesis 19. The story goes that two angels informed Lot about the imminent destruction of the city of Sodom and urged him to leave his home with his wife and two daughters. The angels led the family away from the catastrophe, warning them all the while not to look upon the city. Still, the wife disobeyed: She looked behind and was turned into a pillar of salt. The title Lot’s Wife fosters a metaphorical connection between the women’s lives and the unnamed wife of the scriptural story: Lot’s Wife illustrates Russian women’s dissatisfaction with their condition in Israel and their inability to return to a previous state.