Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The photographs of Francesca Woodman (1958-1981)

Some tender and sensitive souls are not meant to swim too long on the surface. Very soon they are ready and they dive deep. Francesca Woodman started experimenting with the camera very young. At the age of 13, her self portrait, when seen today, is as powerful as any work by an accomplished artist. The angle and the focus, the light, the shadow, the frame, the composition, are all already finely tuned to create a dynamic and at the same time utterly hypnotic photograph. In most of her work she would often use, instead of a studio, the decaying rooms of abandoned derelict buildings. They provided her with the perfect backdrop on which to experiment. She worked meticulously inserting her nude body in the frame as the host and the ghost. A silhouette that bends and blends in with what surrounds it and sometimes becomes suspended in mid air as if obeying the rules of another parallel plane of existence. Sometimes we are confronted with a world of symbols and myths which tend to be strange yet hauntingly familiar. She brought mirrors and antiques and played with the idea of the distortion and the echo of the image. She used long exposures and captured that fleeting moment when a certain state is not yet ruled by rigidity and therefore is still full of magical potential becoming interior. There is a feeling of transcendence when one looks at the photographs of Woodman. But the sincerity and the innocence manage always to shine through the ruins and the surrealist setting. There is nothing pretentious here. Just the beauty and the purity of a talented young artist pushing the boundaries of her imagination and in the process creating a body of work which at the same time confounds and enraptures the viewer.   

Self portrait at thirteen

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