Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman is not an artist I have paid particular attention to through my study of photography, although I have always been familiar with the name. Looking visually at her work it reminds me a lot of Merry Alpern’s.

In particular I have been looking at the book ‘Francesca Woodman: On Being an Angel’. The book consists of black and white photographs taken by the artist during the 1970’s. Thematically, the work is focused on the naked female body, surrealism, symbolism and distortion.

The artist explores her own mental state through self portraiture; often her body appears blurred through movement and the use of slow shutter speeds. These images appear harrowing when you hear about the life the artist lived. Killing herself at the very young age of 22.

Through her images Woodman seems very aware of her surroundings that she photographs herself in. She knows how to navigate herself into spaces in front of the lens to appear as part of the furniture, or reflecting her ideas of fragility of her body into these inanimate items.

When thinking of her work in the context of surveillance and voyeurism, I question her desire to document herself is such a vulnerable way. No one can understand another persons anxieties but through her images we can get a feel for hers. The distortion of her body in the images makes her look like a ghost, seemingly like she embraced and welcomed death.

I have gone off on a slight tangent here but her work inspires me to look at my own project in a different light. I think it shows that I maybe don’t need to be so direct with what I am saying. I always try to create these in-your-face, noisy, scary pieces but her photographs allow their own narrative to be determined.



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