Most of our collective mythology is told through the eyes of the Great Men: generals, presidents, and dictators; the cultural giants, the moguls and the revolutionaries, who have stood front and centre on the global stage and re-written our cultural and geo-political narrative to great fame. They become iconic and emblematic, celebrated for their contributions to human endeavour. However, behind these boldface names, exerting a very different, and yet no less powerful influence, are the women of history: the muses, monarchs, moguls, and mistresses whose stories have largely remained untold because of their gender, because of politics and economics, because of their mental health issues.
Vanishing Pictures Productions was founded to explicitly tell the stories of these women who have wielded soft power to change the course of history.
As founders of Vanishing Pictures – collaborators and co-conspirators – Viola and I come from different worlds. Viola’s expertise is in the global art market, advising and working with private banks, family offices, museums and luxury brands; my background is in geo-political strategy, and in writing. Our experience and interests have dovetailed perfectly in these projects. The stories Vanishing Pictures tell focus on the nexus between art and politics, told through the lives of the extraordinary women at the heart of them.
There is a great imbalance in the way we understand our past and Vanishing Pictures is addressing this in every story we tell. The stories of history’s fascinating women have remained largely unknown and underexposed for reasons of both geopolitics and gender, but they are utterly compelling – as are the personalities themselves — perhaps even more so for the fact that they have been sitting in the shadows for so long. Whether through art patronage or espionage, feminine charms or quiet influence, special talent, and a lot of nerve, women have long been used to finding indirect ways to exert power and shape their worlds. Sometimes these means were a conscious strategic choice, very often these women used the only ways they had available to them to survive and succeed.
Ranging from Ancient Greece to pre-revolutionary Iran, our women have been present – if not crucial to – almost every geo-political turning point in history. The research Viola and I do for each one is extensive, from scouring ancient underground tunnels in Sicily to raiding the archives of couture houses in Paris, to taking tea with an Empress. Our aim is to shine a light on the legacy of these unique women so we can preserve their stories, and share them with the world in the hope that they uplift and inspire the women of today, and future generations.
To this end, we have also set up a foundation with its own publishing arm (Vanishing Pictures Foundation) that has the specific goal of helping women today who face overt or covert censorship in their field, and to give them back their voices. Without that voice, the history of half of humanity will be forgotten, and the future of humanity will continue to suffer for it. Silence is not always golden.
By Miranda Darling
Co-founder and co-conspirator at Vanishing Pictures Productions