Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Disquietude, Francesca Woodman

Self-portrait at 13 Boulder Colorado 1972, notice that her
left hand is holding a cable linked to the camera (Wikipedia)
It has been written and I agree, that the ghost of Francesca Woodman is there in every photograph. Most of her work is self portraiture in rundown buildings, ruins. The youthful body contrasts the broken building, but does not look out of place in such settings. Why?

from Space series Rhode Island 1977

Here the body becomes the wall. The body, between two windows, headless, the navel of a child. The feet darken into shadow, there is a dirtiness there. I love this photo sometimes. What does it say about her womanhood? Can the naked female body signify anything other than womanhood? Yes. Perhaps.

Last night I dreamed a dream that washed like a wave too close to reality. I carry it still into the white afternoon. The snow has fallen, the sun shines on the dust making a brightness one cannot comfortably look at for long. Out the window the shadow of trees fall on the shed, crosshatch of limbs.

Untitled Rome 1977-78
Here (above) there is something sorrowful, romantic. What does the cala lily mean to her? How odd that it is there behind the corner. The woman seems, not Woodman, at ease.

Space 2 Rhode Island 1975-76
I am drawn to these photos but also repelled by them. I feel more and more wordless the longer I look at them. Disquietude. A nude woman stuffed into a museum case, her breasts pushed against the glass, her hand, half a flower and the other outside, holding, hugging around. This is her take on womanhood. What a young girl feels. I could never reveal or expose my body in this way as a young girl but there was a desire to. As though there might be a way around the culturally imposed self-hatred of women. Perhaps the only cure is age, denied to Francesca 

Untitled New York 1979-80

Parts of the body. Severed. There is a sexuality here. I am reminded of freshman comp, learning about advertising schemes that used women's body parts I am reminded of high school and feeling the full power of my sexuality. Not understanding, terrified and yet oddly liberated. The body is broken down into parts. I am reminded of cleaning liquor bottles at a waitressing job. There was a conversation between me, the male bar tender, and the old man owner about sexism which ended with him--the owner of course--telling me to dust liquor bottles. 

Untitled Rhode Island 1975-78

"...A woman apparently dead at the lip of the ocean, reflected in the mirror of another woman whose own face is displaced by that very mirror." 

Untitled Stanwood Washington Summer 1979

Two women in a game of hide-and-seek.
Two women standing in prayer.
Two women blending into the forest.
Two women wearing old dresses.
It is almost 1980.

She could not have known
that she would leap
from a window
at the terribly
young age
of 22.

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