Saturday, November 5, 2011

Woodman at SFMOMA

I am not a huge photography fan but the show blew me away - very intense, very surrealistic, photos of secrets, an elusive dialogue with self.

Francesca Woodman was born in Denver, Colarado in1958 but lived most of her brief life in New York. Having taken her first photograph at thirteen, she committed suicide in 1981 at the age of twenty-two. However, in the few years before this she had created a powerful body of photographic work that continues to influence artists today.

Woodman’s small silver gelatin prints explore gender and self but are not portraits in the traditional sense. She photographed herself in empty, decaying interiors as a ghostly presence, half-revealed, half-concealed. There is the sense of danger lurking in these debris strewn rooms, family secrets that she will somehow channel, as a spiritualist medium claiming to channel the voices of the dead. She merges into the photo, using the body as both object and subject, both the focus of the voyeur's gaze and hiding from that gaze. 

She is the voyeur, she is the disembodied viewer and yet, at the same time, the one who creates the object viewed. Self, not-self, objective, subjective, woman and artist, fetish props of clothing, exotic, erotic.

at SFMOMA..(image courtesy of SFMOMA) 

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