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EXPOSING BOUNDARIES: INTERSECTIONS OF SPACE, TIME AND THE BODY IN FRANCESCA WOODMAN'S PHOTOGRAPHS BY RACHEL LISBETH WEISMAN A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Professor Malena Carrasco Sarasota, Florida May, 2013
! "" TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgementsiii Abstract...........iv List of Figures..v Introduction. 1 Section One : Artistic Consciousness ...3 Section Two: Inadequate Frameworks...12 Section Three: Problematizing Spaces, Collapsing Realms .....22 Conclusion.33 Figures36 Bibliography.. 55
! """ ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Thank you to Professor Carrasco, my sincere respect for you as a scholar has inspired me to always work harder. Thank you for letting me ramble through my thoughts in your office, for your guidance, and for teaching me to have confidence in my ideas. Than k you to Professor Hassold, for consistently pushing me to critically engage with my material. And thank you to Professor Cuomo, for your insights and patience. Maria and Krystaal, thank you for keeping it sassy, thank you for your love. Deirdre, th ank you for looking past my misguided comments in Sociology of Gender and the Body. I am eternally grateful for the innumerable and invaluable hours spent discussing art, philosophy, and our "futures Thank you to Regan, for always being there to talk a bout Barthes, Derrida, and donuts. I must also extend a giant thanks to Skype, for enabling me to talk for hours on end with my favorite stupid idiot, Christopher Mulholland. Mom, Dad, and Dan: thank you for always supporting me, thank you never squ elching my curiosity, thank you for passing on your terrible senses of humor, and tendencies to be long winded. Manna, Erin, Sandy, Heather, Christian, and everyone else: thank you for your friendship. Tropical Thai, thank you for your lunch special.
! "# EXPOSING BOUNDARIES: INTERSECTIONS OF SPACE, TIME, AND THE BODY IN FRANCESCA WOODMAN S PHOTOGRAPHS Rachel Weisman New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT Scholarly representations of the artist Francesca Woodman often rely on framing her work within one fixed academic or artistic boundary. I argue that this in an ineffective way to approach Woodman's work, as it forces a rigid and clea r set of divisions that I feel are intentionally askew in her photographs. This thesis aims to emphasize the intersections of artistic traditions and techniques used by Woodman, particularly in relation to photographic theory, as a means to expand and enri ch the models conventionally used for understanding her body of work. The strength of Woodman's work is actualized through a multi perspectival approach to her representation of spaces, body, and time. In this thesis I explore Woodman's unique combinations of techniques from Feminist, Surrealist, Modernist, and other schools and how that manifests itself as a transfixing image of intersection. Woodman's commentary on photography as a medium, on memory, stillness, time, and identity is intensifie d through her peculiar use of the body within architectural space. It is my suggestion that her photographs be viewed in the same manner as they were made; juxtapositions of extremes, coming together, existing in unison and pushing at the frame of the bod y, the frame of the photograph, and the frame of categorization. Malena Carrasco Division of Humanities
! # LIST OF FIGURES 1. Francesca Woodman, Caryatid, New York, 1 980; diazotype; 227.3 x 92.1 cm. Location Unknown (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman) 2. Francesca Woodman, Some Disordered Geometries New York, 1981 Silver gelatin print. Dim ensions and location unknown. ( photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman) 3. Francesca Woodman, Self Portrait at Thirteen, Boulder Colorado, 1972 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman) 4. Edward Weston, Nude 1927. Silver Gelatin Print. 8 x 10 (20.32x 25.4). Location unknown. 5. Aaron Siskind, Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation 94 1961. Gelatin silver print, 27.9 x 26.1 cm. Location unknown. 6. Man Ray, Lee Miller's Neck 1929. Silver Gelatin Print. ( Man Ray Trust, Paris/VG Bild Kunst, Bonn 2008 ). 7. Francesca Woodman, Self Deceit 4, Rome, 1978. Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman) 8. Francesca Woodman, Space Squared Providence, Rhode Island 1975 76. Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. ( photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman) 9. Francesca Woodman Untitled Roma, 1977 7 8. Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman).
! #" 10. Francesca Woodman, Untitled Rhode Island, 1976. Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman) 11. George Brassa, Nude 1932. Gelatin Silver Print. 5 5/8 x 9!in. (Copyright by Gyula Halasz 74, Rue de la Glacire ). 12. Francesca Woodman Untitled New York 1979 80. Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman) 13. Francesca Woodman, Study for Space2 Providence, Rhode Island, 1975 7, Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman). 14 Francesca Woodman, Untitled (Space 2) Providen ce, Rhode Island, 1975 78 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman). 15 Francesca Woodman, Temple Project, New York, 1980. Diazotype collage. 440 282.4 cm (173 1/4 111 3/16 in.), Metropolitan Museum of Art, (Gift of George and Betty Woodman, 2001) 16 Francesca Woodman, Space2 Providence, Rhode Island, 1976 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. ( photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman) 17 Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodm an) 18 Jan Van Eyck Arnolfini Portrait 1434 82.2 cm x 60 cm, Oil on oak, The National Gallery of Art, UK.
! #"" 19 Francesca Woodman, Angel series Rome, Italy, 1977 7 8 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph pro vided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman) 20. Untitled, Rome, 1977 78 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
INTRODUCTION During the Spring Semester of my third year, I began to zero in on the subjects and materials that had felt most intellectually rewarding to me during my three years at New College. I have always gravitated towards work that uses the body in peculiar ways (papers I've written have focused on Georg Baselitz, Jenny Saville, Philip Pearlstein, Egon Schiele, and Imogen Cunningham, for instance), with particular attention to women artists and/or artists who use the female form. I began this project with intentio ns to investigate the works of women photographers who had significant collections of self portraits, namely: Imogen Cunningham, Nan Goldin, and Francesca Woodman. I am deep ly fascinated by all three artists, but ultimately it only took a few weeks of stru ggling to realize there was no way to group the three artists together without doing their work a disservice. After narrowing my focus to the work of Woodman, I continued to frame her photography through the lens of self portraiture and representations of female identity. It was not long before I found the main pieces of scholarship on Woodman to fall short in their analysis of her photographs. I began to resent the tendency to simplify her work s as only products of the Feminist Art Movement of the 1970's o r to box them in as only being responses to Surrealism. Woodman's images are arresting, and they are compelling and communicative in a way that goes beyond a state of reasoned explanation to a place of intimate knowledge. In my thesis, I hope to refocus W oodman's representation in scholarly conversations by emphasizing the intersections of multiple traditions and techniques. I
! first introduce Woodman and situate what I have identified as important factors and methodologies affecting her work including her use of self, light, and shadow Following that, I explore the strengths and weaknesses of various scholarly approaches that have been taken in the past, namely Feminist and Surrealist frameworks. Finally, I discuss Woodman in relation to photographic theo ry to expand and enrich prior models for understanding her work. In writing this thesis, I found it incredibly hard to avoid employing words which could hold a deeper, metaphorical, or even clichd meaning in regards to photography. I chose to include t his language in my analysis to avoid using a thesaurus for each and every instance of Woodman "exposing," "developing," "shedding light on," or "capturing" an idea. Given that Woodman's career largely addressed issues within photography as a medium, I've r un the danger of making some unintentional an d unfounded "meta observations." I hope that I have made it clear when my use of this vocabulary was intentional and was for the purpose of designating a meta observation.
! # SECTION ONE : Artistic Consciousness The photographer Imogen Cunningham remarked, "A good photograph is a collaboration between photographer and sitter." 1 From the beginning, Francesca Woodman collapsed these predetermined roles and she would continue to do so throughout her short but astoundingly intense career. Francesca Woodman was born in 1958 in Denver, Colorado to the artists Betty and George Woodman. She attended elementary and middle school in Colorado, with the exception of her 2nd grade year which was spent in Italy, where her family owned a farm house in the Florentine countryside. Having artists as parents afforded her early and continual exposure to the arts, and it also mandated developing the indispensable traits of curiosity, independen ce, and creativity at a young age. The summers spent in Italy with her family were often quite solitary: her mother and father occupied themselves with gallery visits while she and her brother were given sketchpads and encouraged to wander. Francesca was f luent in Italian, and as her father remarked, at one time she "was more comfo rtable in Italian than English," underscoring how her time spent in Italy would have been a formative experience. Her childhood was characterized by artistic obsession: her mothe r rarely left the ceramic studio that was attached to their house and her father worked as a painting instructor at the University of Colorado i n Boulder. Betty Woodman stated: I couldn't live with someone who didn't give making art the importance that I give it. I would just !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! $ Imogen Cunningham Imogen! Imogen Cunningham photographs, 1910 1973. ( Seattle: Published for the Henry Art Gallery by the University of Washington Press, 1974. )
! % hate them 2 This statement, which was in reference to Francesca's childhood environment, highlights the problematic reality of the artistic virtuosity that was expected of both Francesca and her brother, Charles 3 Many of Woodman's childhood friends were the children of artists, and her home (in Colorado and Italy) routinely hosted artists, most notably Richard Serra and Nancy Graves. Perhaps as a result of the early cultivation of curiosity and fierce independence or perhaps as a means of escape, Woodman elected to leave her home environment to attend a prestigious boarding school in Andover, Massachusetts. While at the Abbot Academy 4 she continued her experimentations in art under the guidance of Wendy MacNeil, w ho stressed the importance of content over technical precision in photography. 5 Woodman's father was also a formative influence, and it was he who gave her the medium format camera that she would use for the majority of her career. After high school, Woodman attended the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. There, she continued her work in photography and began experimenting with video. While at RISD, Woodman was taught by Aaron Siskind, a photographer noted for his often abs tract compositions of architecture and nature and by the feminist photographer Marcia Resnick. Woodman also sought guidance from her high school instructor Wendy MacNeil, who had recently become a professor at RISD. She returned to Italy for a year to pa rticipate in a RISD honors program in Rome. Instead of living in student housing, Woodman and her schoolmate Sloan Rankin chose to share an !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2 Betty Woodman, interview by Scott Willis, The Woodmans January 2010. 3 Charles also became an artist and now works primarily in digital design and video. 4 The Abbot Academy merged with the Phillips Academy in 1973. 5 Eva Russ, "Surrealism and Self Representation in the Photography of Francesca Woodman," 49th Parallel An Interdisciplinary Journal of North American Studies 15 (2005).
! & apartment in what was then the artists' quarter of the city. Woodman took courses in the Palazzo Cenci, a sixteenth century structure buil t on the foundation of a Roman c ircus. The entrance to the building is framed by a massive arch made of travertine blocks, from which one climb s a tight spiral staircase up to the rooms decorated with ornate ceilings and f rescos, which have been converted into studios and offices. Each studio space has a large window facing east and looking out o nto a piazza, allowing for natural light to flood the rooms every morning 6 During her time in Rome, Woodman frequented the Libre ria Maldoror a bookstore and gallery space specializing in Surrealism It was at this bookstore that a small number of her works we re first displayed, aside from student shows at RISD. It was also at this bookstore that Woodman first encountered Edith Schloss, an American artist who split her time between New York and Rome. Schloss, who was featured in the foundational "Art of Assemblage" show at MoMA in 1961, became an important inspiration to Woodman, who kept in contact with the established artist du ring her transition and struggles in New York. After graduating from RISD in late 1978, Woodman moved to New York City to pursue her career as a photographer. Although Woodman lived in the East Village in the late 1970s, an area known for its dense popula tion of artists, her work deviates from her creati ve contemporaries' focus on popular culture and mass media. Woodman developed an interest in fashion photography, but she was unable to find steady work or to garner critical acclaim and became increasingly frustrated in New York. In 1980, Woodman was an artist in residence at the nation's leading artist community, the MacDowell Colony, in !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! John Cunnally, A new home for the Rome Program Iowa State University, 2007, http://archive.des ign.iastate.edu/ROME/palazzocenci.php Accessed November 2012
! New Hampshire. The images she produced during her time at the MacDowell Colony initiated her experimentations with diazo types and other non traditional photographic processes. Woodman exposed large sheets of light sensitive paper with negatives' made from large scale transparencies, by physically applying an object, or by projecting ima ges onto the paper with a slide proje ctor (Figure 1). The images created at this stage in her career continue to concentrate on the body, space, and time, but have notably deviated from her adherence to traditional photographic processes. Resistance to these limitations is investigated furthe r with her artist's books, which break conventions in presentation by their combinat ions of text and image, and also introduce an indisputably personal narrative. In January of 1981, she published the artist book Some Disordered Interior Geometries (Figu re 2) The physical framework for the 24 page work is a repurposed Italian Geometry book, with 16 photogra phs pasted in, as well as white corrective fluid and writings added by Woodman. This is the only officially published artist book by Woodman although she made many. As demonstrated by a number of her captioned photographs, the artist book lent itself perfectly to Woodman's fascination with the overlaps and tensions between image and text. A week after the publication of Some Disordered Inter ior Geometries, on January 19th, the 22 year old Woodman took her life by throwing herself out of a window. Her death often serves as the fixed and romanticized perspective from which to view her works; however, in this thesis I chose view her suicide as an ineffective and unproductive means for analysis.
! ( Aside from the small show in Italy and a few juried shows associat ed with RISD, Woodman's work had only posthumous exposure in the art world. 7 Woodman's astute understanding of photography and imagery permitted the works to be intimate records of an exploration and expansion of an identity between self/other, while simultaneously challenging the viewer to confront those same elements within themselves. Through the various interpretations and appraisals of her work that follow, it is pertinent to remember that Woodman never saw herself as an actualized artist; her work was first produced as a teenager, then as a young woman and art student. What we now view as her finished projects or final pieces would b e seen as juvenile examples of work in the chronology of many other artist s careers. With this in mind, the influences or direct responses' to established works or movements can become strikingly apparent; however, this does not diminish Woodman's work, but ra ther accentuates her ability to invigorate the visual and conceptual in a way that results in an engrossing image of equal or greater resonance than its predecessor. Woodman's work frequently addresses bodies, objects, and bodies as objects that are configured with great attention to form and dimension, free of any i mmediate or discernible context. They demand an intimate visual and theoretical investigation. Woodman's images read as visual notes from a mind always in thought, in pro cess, and in resistance. Her images portray scenes forever folding in upon themselves, compounding and collapsing, while simultaneously alluding to a space or time outside of what is contained within the photograph The images have a dual presence as an ob ject !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 7 Although over 800 pictures exist, only around 120 have been published. Betty and George Woodman own the righ ts. They have executive access over Francesca's negatives as well as control over what is seen or published.
! ) and as a record of performance. Woodman often created sets or series of related images, teasing out the connections between a moment that has already happened and one that has yet to happen. Routinely, her self portraits make undisguised feminist comm entary, but looking beyond that, her works are a compelling commentary on stillness, identity, liminality, and the possibilities created by photographing the body as transformed or even foreign to itself, whilst offering "a critique of those formal conditi ons that structure her medium." 8 In the time that Woodman was making her work, photography was still struggling to be viewed as a legitimate medium of the Fine Arts. The clashes between classicism, realism, and symbol ism contributed to the debate over pho tography as art There were also disputes as to whether images could or should be staged. This defines the crucial push/pull of contemporary "staged" photography between an unbiased' observational aesthetic and an intentionally composed work or montage. A fundamental issue within this struggle was the representation, and misrepresentation, of "truth" within an image. A division arose between what was to be known as "straight" and unm anipulated photography ( the Modernist schools of Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston), and "constructed" or fabricated photography (post modern approaches) which used long exposure, alternative printing methods, or unusual cropping, often resulting in an im age of something other than our lived experience of the "real." Of course, it must be noted that this division appears incredibly shallow and muddled if we are to understand the camera to only be an apparatus through which we view the world. 9 To recogniz e that the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8 Chris Townsend Francesca Woodm an: Scattered in Space and Time. (Phaidon Press, 2006), 11 9 Vilem Flusser in Photography theory in historical perspecti ve: case studies from contemporary art Hilde
! photographer has ultima t e control over the final image effectively disbands the notion of "straight" photography versus manipulated photography altogether. 10 Woodman's work often played within the places between "straight" and manipulated photography as demonstrated in Self Portrait at Thirteen (B oulder, Colorado 1972, F igure 3). The viewer is led into the image along the blurry outline of the cable release. The camera's role is immediately established; it is not a background or forgotten device, but instead functions as the apparatus essential for viewing and "seeing." There is to be no mistake that the maker of the image is also the model. This further underscores the intensity and complexity of Woodman's relationship to the camera, as if there is no world outside of these moments. It is through the camera that she has come in to being. This image emphasizes an intimacy between the viewer and subject but simultaneously hinders a clear and accessible identity through the obstruction of her face. A self portrait traditionally functions as a tool to expose the self to the viewer, but Woodman's Self Portrait challenges this by closing herself off. What is clearly established, however, is Woodman's position as the body and mind in control of th e image's existence. Following the line from a place outside of the frame, the cable release seamlessly melds into Woo dman's outreached hand. It is as though they are becoming one, each an extension of the other. As her own vision is obstructed from the vi ewer, and at least pa rtially obstructed in the lived moment of the photograph, it is as if the camera is meant to represent the lens through which Woodman views both the world and herself. This image pushes at the line between what is understood as pure photography and the constructed image by intentionally presenting undisputable elements of both schools. The !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! van Gelder and Helen Westgeest, (Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell. 2011), 199 10 A key example of this is of Ansel Adams's Moonrise over Hernandez which was created through the use of two exposures, but was seen as the pinnacle of "pure" photography.
! $+ bottom l eft corner of the image is burned out, leaving Woodman's lower legs to be washed away in li ght. The erasure or fragmentation of the subject through light, mirror, or material object becomes a recurring theme in Woodman's work. Fragmentation or disorientation through use of shadow and light was common amongst Modernist and Surrealist photograph y (F igure s 4, 5 6 ) Woodman was familiar with this technique and utilized it in many of her photographs. However, Self Portrait at Thirteen together with her Self Deceit series (Rome, 1978, F igure 7) make a conceptual break in order t o challenge principles of photography and challenge the representation of the female body Woodman has borrowed visual strategies from Surrealist and Modernist photography, but she abstains from adopting their respective manifestos. In Self Deceit the body is positio ned in the corner of a stone block room, reared up on its back legs as the upper portion of the figure dives behind a mirror. The feet and legs of the figure push against one wall while the mids ection of the figure is thrust into the junction of the two wa lls, leaving the upper section of the body to propel itself into the mirrored void on the adjacent side. This void' is created through the flood of light at the top left corner of the mirror, paradoxically ac centuating the corner as a hard form and a s a space of erasure. The bottom portion of the mirror reflects the decaying wall and variegated patterns in the space, which further emphasizes the place of void in the top corner. I argue that in this place of void and erasure the figure is not the same as the space, but begins to become the space
! $$ As with Self Portrait at Thirteen the Self Deceit series contemp lates the formal properties of p hotography and the camera. Photography is a light dependent medium, so naturally Woodman's obsession with light an d shadow often provide s subtle commentary on the technical aspects of creating a negative and developing the image. The lightest sections of the negative, and thus the darkest sections in an image, are the product of exposure to a light source, from which the image is burned into the negative. As such, the lighter areas in an image are the result of an under exposed or completely unexposed section of the negative, so in the case of Self Deceit, the image of lightness becomes the ultimate representation of v oid and erasure. Woodman's work undeniably benefitted from the feminist movement of the 1970s: her work serves as a re appraisal and reconfiguration, and by combining techniques from multiple photographic backgrounds, she is able to create works that emb race and portray a self conscious truthfulness. A feminist approach to photography embraces a multiplicity of perspectives and a reexamination of traditional images of bodies. This fully supports a shift in focus toward female subjecti vity by not situating women as depersonalized, and often fragmented, objects but rather as figures in possession of their own narratives, identities, and truths. Her work harnesses the immediacy of "straight" or Modernist works but combines it with a composed narrative resulting in an aesthetic that speaks of involvement rather than detachment. Woodman's work addresses to these principles, but I argue her focus goes far beyond an exploration of identity as a female bodied person.
! $" SECTION TWO : Inadequate Frameworks In this section, I have mapped out the arguments of a few principal texts that have sought to orient Woodman's work within artistic movements or trends. I do not wish to discount these scholarly contributions; rather, I want to raise issue s with their pres entation as the final or "objective" framework for viewing Woodman's work. When approaching scholarship on Woodman, it is not difficult to identify key publications that first sparked interest in her body of work and cemented the framework for how Woodman's work would be understood. Rosalind Krauss's Problem Sets and Abigail Solomon Godeau's Just Like a Woman accompanied the exhibition Francesca Woodman, Photographic Wor k which travel ed to the Hunter College Art Gallery, New York; Wellesley College Museum; University of Colorado Fine Art Gallery, Boulder; UCI Fine Arts Gallery, University of California, Irvine; and Krannet Art Museum, Champaign from 1986 to 1988. 11 Probl em Sets appeared in Bachelors a collection of essays w here Krauss evaluates the work of nine women artist s Krauss seeks to validate the work of, among others, Cindy Sherman, Claude Cahun Sherrie Levine, and Woodman by discussing it in relation to the masculinized canon of art history. In Problem Sets Krauss situates Woodman's photographs as the work of a young female art student: irrevo cably personal, self obsessed, and tied to classro om assignments dictating !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 11 Jane Simon, "An intimate mode of looking: F rancesca Woodman's photographs," Emotion, Space and Society 3 (2010) : 31.
! $# set parameters or thematic goals. 12 Krauss declares that Woodman's work is the result of "inscribing...the objective language onto her own back," positioning her photographs as both [violently] reactive and indivisibly autobiographi cal. 13 Woodman's exploration of the photographic medium and her representations of self are reduced to adolescent experiments rat her than viewed as components of her intricate compositions. Krauss aptly examines Woodman's tendency to combat formalist and o bjective "problem sets" by injecting herself as a means for understanding, but she fails to acknowledge the implications of the physical space her body occupies. Krauss's discussion of Space Squared ( Providence, Rhode Island Figure 8 ), observes : In the problem set mentality, you are asked to create a formal pair, like depth/surface, figure/frame, horizontal/vertical. What would you think of? As a photographer, what would you start to do? Woodman thought about the body's assumption of those dimensi ons... 14 These questions propose the problem sets as methodologies for Woodman to work through spaces of tension For instance, in Space Squared we could out lin e the tensions between the soft fleshiness of the body and the hard, cold angles of the display box. Of course, these tensions are critical components in the composition, but Krauss's suggestion that they are answers to "problem sets" diminishes possibilities of deeper readings. Later, Krauss suggests that the abandoned buildings in her compositions are "not really the objects of vision," implying that it is only the conceptual space that needs our attention. Ignoring the physical spaces occupied by Woodman's body bars them from being in tentional and significant choices. The choice of abandon ed buildings for her !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! $" ,-./00!1234-5-430!364!17.840!.0!5-9:/;30!9.04:!92!64-!?29 @=4:84!91:HI!$(%H
! $% compositions injects history and memory, not to mention unique light and texture. While insightful, Krauss's rigid reading of Woodman's work through the mode of problem sets ultim ately weakens the friction and intersections that are pr esent in Woodman's photographs. As the title would suggest, Solomon Godeau's Just Like a Woman (1986) situates Woodman as a gendered body who is addressing and confronting femininity. Solomon Godeau focuses on Woodman's photographs which utilize objects associated with fetishization, such as gloves or garter belts ( Roma 1977 8 and Untitled, Rhode Island, 1977, Figures 9 and 10 respectively). Woodman is knowing ly, and perhaps even jokingly, playing with gender constructions by superfluously self applying the markers of a fetishized body onto her own nude figure. But here Solomon Godeau's appraisal of the artist falls short: yes, Woodman addresses stereotypes of the feminized body, but unlike other women artists working during the Feminist Art Movement, Woodman's work reveals compositions that demand to be seen and engaged with beyond the subjective experience of a young adult white woman in the late 1970's. Woodman's meditations on female id entity are significant and valuable, but it would be a great loss to disregard the multitude of other forces at work in her photographs. Woodman makes work from a young f emale perspective, but we most certainly run the danger of disregarding the other factors at play in her work if we focus only on identity politics In Space Squared (Fig. 8), the female figure's body is pressed tightly against the glass walls of the displ ay case. Within that description alone, the image offers plenty of material to address concepts of the male g aze, and the commodification
! $& and overexposure of the female body However, that description overlooks the simultaneous possibility of the display c ase as metaphor: for a photograph, for architecture, or as a visual emphasis for space itself. Woodman's photographically conscious aesthetic remains the same in the two fetishized images ( Roma Untitled ) as it does in Space Squared The limiting potential of a critique based solely on female identity can be further explained in comparison to Cindy Sherman ( Woodman 's contemporary in the 1970s); she matches Woodman in medium and seemin gly in self obsession. Sherman exclusively uses her self as the subject, and both artists engage with identity in ways that are simultaneously intimate and detached. Unlike Woodman, however, the substance of Sherman's work relies on illustrating and scrutinizing the various tropes of femininity, like the helpless s tarlet or ob livious housewife. The application of feminist critique is natural for the work of young women artists, but where Sherman's career has continued on and mindfully incorporated feminist themes throughout her career, Woodman's work does not provide those same inescapable conclusions. There is an unquestionable presence of identity politics in Woodman's photograph y but it is by no means the defining force of her work. Both Krauss and Solomon Godeau's approaches are appealing and have yielded productive analysis, but they are ultimately limited in their potential to address the intimacy and complexity proposed by Woodman's photographs. It would be nearsighted to frame the use of the b ody in Woodman's work as only a feminist response, overwhelmed by subjectivity, or to view her photographs as solely products of art school assignments.
! $' More recently, s cholars have used Surrealism and Surrealist notions of self representation as another set of aesthetic and theoretical tools to investigate Woodman's photographs Helaine Posner's "The Self and The World" from Mirror Images: Women, Surrealism and Self Representation and Eva Rus's "Surrealism and Self Representation in the Photography of Francesca Woodman" propose viewing Woodman's work as a re examination and expansion of Surrealist aesthetics and philosophies from a feminist perspective. 15 Both Posner and Rus cite passages from "Corpus Delicti a chapter from Rosalind Krauss's L'Amour Fou an innovative series of essays dedicated to explaining the importance of photographs from the Surrealist movement. 16 It is important to note that both Posner and Rus focus on women artists, including Woodman, whereas Krauss's essays focus on male Surrealists. In L'Amour Fou Krauss explains the various techniques that the Surrealists used to alter or modify the straight' image, such as multiple exposures, solarization, or doubling the negatives. These modifications are offered as proof that the photograph has no stronger ties to "reality" than do the compositions of a Surrealist painting. These acts of defamiliarizing the photograph from reality, and subsequently eliminatin g a definitive connection between the signifier and the signified, serve to point out social constructions and perceptions. By manipulating and changing the objects in the composition, the photographs collapse what can be understood or represented as natur al. Krauss states: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 15 Whitney Chadwick, Mirror images: Women, Surrealism, and Self Representation (1998) ; Eva Russ, "Surrealism and Self Representation in the Photography of Francesca Woodman," 49th Parallel: An interdisciplinary journal of North American Studies, Spring 2005. 16 Rosalind Krauss, "Corpus Delicti," L'Amour Fou (1985).
! $( ...woman was in construction, for she was the obsessional structure there as well. And since the vehicle through which she is figured is itself manifestly constructed (through darkroom manipulations and contrivances), woman and photograp h become figures' for each other's condition: ambivalent, blurred, indistinct, and lacking in, to use Edward Weston's word, authority 17 Krauss's reading of Surrealist photographs is an important one, and in some cases it has even been labeled as proto feminist 18 B ut it is important to remember that t he Surrealist camp, led by Andr Breton, relied on the representation of female bodies as the extreme Other. As objects, women were fundamentally inseparable from nature, irrationality, and body, and t hey served as the passive intermediary between the male and his unconscious. The linchpin of the Surrealist mission to break down binary oppositions between mind/body, reason/impulse, and art/nature, was a reliance on Woman to be the only construction left standing. 19 This assu mption allowed any woman artist who was so inclined to adopt the Surrealist techniques and, like her male counterparts, harness the female body as a tool. Unlike the male artists of the Surrealist movement female representation of the female body was most often captured through self portraits, reversing the original power structures and turning the images into vehicles of subversive representation Contemporary scholars have paralleled Woodman's use of her own body with the work of other fe male Surrealist photographers, suc h as Lee Miller or Claude Cahun !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 17 Ibid., 95 18 Due, in part, to one of Krauss's closing statements: "If when in Surrealist poetry woman was constantly in construction, then at certain moments that project could at least prefigure a next step, in which a reading is opened onto deconstruction. It is for this reason, that the frequent characterization of Surrealism as antifeminist seems to me to be mistaken" (p 95). 19 Eva Russ, "Surrealism and Self" (2005)
! $) The images created by women artists who adopted elements of Surrealist philosophy challenged the configuration of female identity by disputing the body as the sole signifier of (female) identity. Feminist themes and the use of the body might seem distant from the unmistakably phall ocentric origins of Surrealism; however, it can be argued that Woodman's use of doubling, long exposures, mirrors, and other darkroom techniques to modify her images aligns itself with Surrealists' use of strategies to upset perceptions of "reality" in photography (and society). These work s placed emphasis on the immediacy of the body as both surface and image, while accenting the duality of artist as spectator and as object of spectacle 20 The fetishized female figure is a common feature of Surrealist photography, a trope with which Woodman was familiar and took full advantage of. As noted by Solomon Goudeau, Woodman counters the canonical fetishization of women in art by purposefu lly adorning her body with props of femininity, such as garter belts, stockings, and flowers. H er body and the space that surrounds it, is left bare, accentuating the absurdity of the props Woodman's images with props could per haps be read as a taunting response to the imagery of her male predecessors. One such example is found when comparing Brassai's Nude ( 1933 F ig ure 11 ) and Woodman's Untitled ( New York 1979 80 Figure 12 ). Brassai's configuration and cropping of the nude female at her head and legs results in a distinctly phallic image. Woodman's nude figure is also transformed through cropping, but it resists phallic representation. As opposed to Brassai's Nude Woodman 's figure is positioned frontally, challenging the apparently unconscious and uncomplicated Surrealist task of transforming the female body into a phallic figure. Woodman's tongue in cheek commentary continues with the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 20 Pieces such as Hannah Wilke's S.O.S. Starification Object Series and Adrian Piper's Mythic Being.
! $* addition of two small barrettes placed next to the figure, alluding to the necessity of a fetish object to mediate the male anxiety with the female other. It is obvious t hat Woodman was exposed to and influenced by the Surrealist movement. Woodman's legs are segmented and bound with ribbon in Horizontale (Providence, Rhode Island, 1976 1977), a composition that clearly mimics the "portrait" of Hans Bellmer's partner Unica Zurn in Unica (1958). But e ven with clear comparative examples, Woodman's relationship with Surrealism is far from tidy. It goes beyond direct visual or conceptual influences, in favor of a looser, more abstracted, Surrealistic approach That is to say, Woodman 's connection to Surrealism is strongest in the ir shared exploration of differences and perceptions of the body and things -in relation to space s They also share similar interest in compositions that manipulate photographic techniques to create optical distortions. But Woodman's use of Suurealism is not exclusive nor exceedingly dominant over her other influences or motives. The unsatisfying and unfortunate product of these early criticisms lies not with the content, but rather with the move towards singular categorization and blanket perceptions of her body of work. The strengths and weaknesses of the Feminist and Surrealist approaches to Woodman's work rise from the circumstances of her womanhood. Harnessing Surrealist objectives to challenge binary opposites, experimenting through problem sets, and transforming the body are all useful lenses of critique; however, the Femini st reading relies on tropes of young, female explorations of identity and the Surrealist methodology depends on her gender to reverse the power structures. The
! "+ aforementioned are largely unquestioned notions and have become an obligatory lens for critique Perhaps as a result of this, many w omen artists are too quickly essentialized as "responding to" or "in conversation with" the objectification by the male artist and society at large, and subsequently, the viewer is left with an incomplete understanding of an artist's vision. We must acknowledge and situate a woman artist as creating in an act of protest, as the art world is still dominated by male creative figures; but with equal attention we must break from this essentializing notion in order to assess the multifaceted collection of questions raised by an artist's oeuvre. That Woodman's photographs command attention while being subt le and passive in presentation is just one of the many paradoxes, contradictions, and conflicting readings that are pro mpted by her work. Because Woodman's chosen medium was photography, it seems critical to introduce theory which directly focuses on issues surrounding photographic representation. Photographic history and theory are multifaceted and diverse, and within the timeline of Art History, relatively contemporary. Since its invention in the 19th century, photography has steadily permeated the visual arts and the world at large. In spite of this, many of the defining features and functions of photography have gone unexamined. Debating photography's indexical relationship to reality is one such issue. The index relies on a point of reference f r om which it can gain its meaning and significance. Notions of the index, like a trace, help convey the likeness and causal relationship between two things, e.g. dust as an index of time. Photography, then, could be seen as an index of reality as it involves a mechanized (read: objective) reproduction o f compositions from real t ime. Conventionally, photogra phy has taken the
! "$ role of the index of reality while painting has taken the role of icon which bears only a stylized resemblance to reality 21 However these distinctions become blurred when considering g raphic images that have qualities outside of the crisp, clear, and seemingly unaltered documentary style As the theorists Hilde van Gelder and Helen Westgeest explain: In general, a detailed photography at first sight may appear more truthful than a lesser detailed one or than a painting. For every iconic image, it takes the viewer's conception of such a possibility of resemblance to effectively see that relationship of similarity between reality and representation. 22 Despite analog photography's ability to capture a realistic image, we must recognize the photograph as both an index and an icon : holding a n indexical connection to its object while having only a visual resemblance to the real. This distinction mimics s ome of the notions discussed in differentiating "straight" photographs from "manipulated" photographs. Woodman repeatedly teases out the tensions between photography's dual identities by exposing it s ability to replicate a moment while simultaneously omi tting visual data through cropping, shadows, over exposure, or blurring. By mirroring a reality that existed and then alter ing the replicated experience, perhaps Woodman's work manifests itself as an empty or unspecified trace, cut off from larger contexts to live within its own reality of space and time. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 21 van,Gelder, Westgeest Photography Theory in Historical Perspective ; 33 34 22 Ibid. 35
! "" SECTION THREE : Problematizing Spaces Collapsing Realms In theory, photography has the potenti al to capture an "objective" or neutral viewpoint and offers an opportunity to analyze reality with prec ision. I n the follow ing section, I hope to demonstrate how Woodman seeks to disrupt this assumption of objectivity in the photographic process through manipulation and visual distortion, and by inserting the body as a form which holds inherent social significations. Woodman's organization and conceptualization s of space are exemplified in the study for Space 2 ( Untitled Providence, Rhode Island 1975 8, fig.13 ). The contact print contains eleven images, nine of which have a single blurred figure. Six of the figures exist within hand drawn black frames, pushing the two dimensional structure of the photograph back into a three dimensional space. Woodman has chosen to qualify the space as squared, rather than cubed, resulting in multi ple tensions between the flattened geometric space, the organic and ill defined body, and the roughly drawn rectangles protruding outwards from the frame. It is hard to avoid relying on Woodman's own rhetoric. I ndeed her only published a rtist book titled "Some Disordered Geometries contained a few of her iconic images of a body seemingly trapped within space. It can be dangerous to overestimate the depth of Woodman's understanding of her own work, but in this case considering her notes or frantic scribbles can be a helpful tool to help us ask the right questions. All of the images in the Space 2 series are set in a n off white room, with a gray floor and dark kickboard marking the perimeter. In eight of the ima ges, the
! "# composition includes the corner of the room and a small sliver of a window sill. The squareness of the image is emphasized through the off kilter framing which imposes a sense of disorder onto the architectural space. Woodman could have easily cropped or oriented the composition to align with the hard angles of the architecture, but instead she chose to disrupt an orderly structure. After recognizing a function of photographs as indexes, icons, or even traces of reality, we must then acknowledge their potential to defamiliarize or distance the connections between what is represented and how we (are to) understand it. Woodman calls attention to the camera as an apparatus, one which is unable to distinguish between flesh and wall, unlike the human eye which immediately seeks to identify and categorize the human/subject from the object/space. 23 While the compositions still resemble an architectural space, Woodman has flattened the m considerably and teased out their geometries to a point of optical illusion. In the images containing a body, the blurry figure becomes trapped within these perspectival shifts. Through the combination of a long exposure and movement, the figure develops into a thrashing form within the contents of the photographic, architectural, and hand drawn frame literally offering a critique of photography from inside its own principles These perspectival shifts operate on a physical level as optical disruptions, b ut also on a conceptual level as documents of the direct experiences of a gendered, political body. The body her body is political insomuch as all bodies and all identities, are political: existing in relation to and implicated in a larger system or socia l identity. Through visual disorder, Woodman has drawn attention to a way our bodies occupy space and has documented the response. In one image ( Untitled Providence, Rhode Island 1975 8, F ig ure 1 4 ), Woodman has placed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 23 Simon "An intimate mode of looking: Fr ancesca Woodman's photographs," 3: 32
! "% her body within the corner of the room, butted up against the seams of the two walls and floor. She has situated her body as material and positioned it to assimilate into the space. This assimilation is only partially successful, beca use visually we are drawn to the places of error, where her body happens to sit above the clean, geometric line of the baseboard. As George Baker noted, these interactions between Woodman's body and architecture become records of a phenomenological experi ence 24 The core essence of an individual's interactions with space and objects are fundamental components in Minimalism and phenomenology. Woodman positions her body as a place for, and of, disturbance. By interacting with, and being trapped in, space she is cal ling into question our very notions of these structures and our interactions with them. These images also reinforce Woodman's work as ve ry process based. As Chris Townsend remarks, "Woodman's interventions in photographic space and time return us to a fail ure of the medium that the medium cannot acknowledge the fact that the compression of space and time in the camera, in the photograph, offers a flat scientific' reality, a phenomenological reductivism that only coheres through an unreal stasis. Her photo graphy refuses both the spatial and temporal framing that should regulate it. There is always a gap, however small, between the interior geometry of the lens and the image, and the exterior geometry of the world." 25 Woodman's concerns with architecture and the body are reified in Temple Project a 10' by 15' diazotype collage constructed from torn sheets of architectural blueprint paper (New York, 1980 Figure 15) 26 The twenty nine photos which make up the collage are arranged to mimic the front facade of a Greco Roman temple. The columns are an assembly of five figures cloaked in linen with their arms reaching up to cover their faces, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 24 George Baker, "Corner Pieces," lecture at Through the lens of Francesca Woodman Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from March 16, 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM3uBw5_voY 25 Townsend, Francesca Woodman; 48 49 26 A diazotype is a similar exposure process to a blueprint, produces dark lines on a white, light sensitive background by way of chemical reactions.
! "& creating an angular form similar to a capital. Temple P roject represents a shift in Woodman's examination of spaces by overtly cementing a relationship between the body and the structures we inhabit. Temple also highlights the pervasive impact of the Italian tradition on Woodman and her art Access to the contact print of the negatives from the Space series is akin to learning an actor's trick for memorizing lines or sneaking a peak at an athlete's foolproof conditioning routi ne. The work offers a glimpse of Woodman's thought process and plans (via the hand drawn boxes), and serves to validat e the work as a performance. While she was at RISD and in New York City, Woodman experimented with video; however, Study for Space 2 reveals that she approached many, if not all, of her projects with an emphasis on the representation of a live( d), multi media experience. Photography has a unique relationship with performance or Performance Art as it is able to still and freeze isolated moments in time. Through photography, l ive gestur es are extended past the initial moment of intensity, and perf ormances are expanded to exercises that can be seen (known?) in the absence of the performing body. 27 Notions of performance within Space 2 are underscored by the blurred figures with each click of the camera's shutter constituting a stilling of the body in motion. The figure in the fifth image (if we read them in a chronological, linear order) is the most defined of the eleven Space 2 images, and the only body which is positioned front ally ( fig. 1 6 ) Despite both of the figure's feet being planted on the ground, her body seems tense and as if she were caught off balance. Her hands reach out, almost grasping, as if she were expecting to steady herself on a !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 27 Exhibition at MoMA, Staging Action: Performance in Photography since 1960", January 28 May 9, 2011. The Robert and Joy ce Menschel Photography Gallery.
! "' tangible plane of air. Her head is the only part of her body which is obscured, a blurred result of a few moments of furious head shaking. Obscuring serves as a resistance of stillness and of the camera's ability to capture a fixed moment in time. I would argue that all of the indefinit e figures in the Space 2 series (and her body of work as a whole) come to represent a subtle challenge to the photograph as a document of reality by fracturing any fixed moment into a series of moments both before and after the composition presented. This r esistance also extends as a challenge to a fixed or constructed identity. In addition to the formal qualities engaged with by Woodman through the squaring and disruption of perspectival order, she interfaces with spaces largely void of immediate or disce rnible context. Often these spaces are presented in one of two ways: a seemingly contemporary and undecorated space, or a space with clear markers of age and debris. Woodman approaches both spaces with equal attention and depicts the subject constantly in relation to its immediate environment. Because of this, these spaces become charged with layers of temporal references The compositions present the viewer with an opportunity to disrupt linear structures and to navigate through old buildings, occupied by new bodies, which are then documented by photographs which have the potential to "outlive" the moment captured. The intersection of space, time, and body provide the conditions for how we perceive and process any given object or event. A gene rally accepted definition explains context as "the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed." 28 In other words, to "properly" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 28 Dictionary, Copyright 2005 2007 Apple Inc., Accessed April 10 th 2013
! "( situate a concept, we must identify how it is framed. I find this to be a basic, but crucial, notion in analyzing visual media, particularly in relation to the photographic process. As in (the case of) Woodman's presentation of perspectival shifts, the context of a photograph can be found at the junction of the physical and conceptual properties. I question how the physical frame of the composition works towards defining the context in a photograph. Does it succeed in boxing in all relevant and necessary material? Townsend offers this insight, All photographs are structure d first of all not by what they include but by what they leave out. The frame represents the most overt act of excision. However, the camera also curtails the depth of field within the image it constructs, imposing, as Jean Fra ncois Lyotard points out, a perspectival framework whose ideological constraints precede the photograph. The photograph depends, for clarity, of the perception, on the exclusion of light and time." 29 I have already established that Woodman's photograph s challenge fixed divisions of space and/or time, but Townsend's observation points to a nuanced explanation of the elements at play in her photographs. The conscious representation of indefinite spaces coupled with allusions to time that extends before, a fter, and beyond the singular image often results in a(n eventual?) minimization of the subject by pure excess of self referential (photographic, formal) material. Ironically, I find a sense of ease in accepting Woodman's work as excessively infused with m ulti dimensionality. That said, I am troubled by the implication that this excess completely overrides the use of the body -and even more so as it is often her own body There are a number of Woodman's compositions that engage with this theory, but I would like to focus on two images in particular. In the first image, Untitled (Provide nce, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 29 Townsend, Francesca Woodman; 47
! ") Rhode Island, 1976; Figure 17 ) Woodman is perched on a chair in the upper right han d corner of the room. Her feet (clad in black mary janes) point to the space on the dusty floor where a (her) body has left an imprint. The image is overwhelmed in light gray and white tones, with the seams of the baseboard, Woodman's shoes, and the imprin t of the figure being the only sections of deep grays or blacks. The c omposition is oriented downward and towards the corner of the room. The quiet layer of dust or powder that covers the floor disrupts the geometric repetition of the long wooden floorboar ds Only the bottom section of Woodman's physical body is present in the photograph, but she is slumped over and studying what we can assume is an imprint of her own figure. This particular image accompanies at least one other photograph and a very short f ilm, so it is without doubt concerned with notions of photography as a record of (a) performance. 30 But even without that knowledge, Untitled engages with temporality and the photograph. The imprint of the figure is a trace of Woodman's body, and although it exists permanently within this image, it is sure to fade or disappear. The composition mimics the photographic process. Woodman's form emerges from the floor as a negative imprint; her body has physically resisted the powder/light from overwhelming the floor/photographic negative. While I hesita te to call it a "self portrait," I believe this photograph achieves a similar meditation on image making as Van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait (Figure 18 ). Both works reference the act of image making and take pause t o study the representation of the body, particularly in relation to the spaces they occupy. Self portraits and images of the artist at work are commonplace in the Art Historical canon; however, there are far fewer instances of such a direct implication in the self !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 30 Simon "An intimate mode of looking;" 31
! "* portrait process. The image of Woodman's body as it fades into the floor is considerably more abstracted and vague than Van Eyck's appearance in the Arnolfini portrait, but bo th images of the artist exude an air of distance. While Van Eyck's distance is physical, it still share s a similar sense of play: the artist is in control of repre sentation and ultimately decides what can, should, or will be shown. In Angel series (Rome, Italy, 1977 8, Figure 19 ), the imprint of the body has shifted from floorboards to a heavily textured section of ground. The figure, which we can see only from the thigh down, has positioned her body to mirror the stance of the legs imprinted into the ground. The space of the composition is comprised of multiple strands of time. Evidence of the ground's decay is only exemplified in relation to the white, youthful legs which have left their mark. Angel series presents a struggle between a body which has been inscribed and framed by space/ti me and a physical inscription (or retaliation?) of that body onto its surroundings. In light of these images, I would like to readdress Townsend's observations. While there is an excess of spatio temporal information in Untitled and Angel series the strength of the images radiates from the points of bodily interjection. The body is not simply a contrasting soft form in an otherwise hard, geometric atmosphere, but extends to heighten levels of mean ing and signification by shifting what we are comfortable in seeing Woodman is pushing at the physical frame of the body just as she pushes at the frame of the compositions. Further, by injecting her body into these spaces, and even covering her body thei r decay ( Untitled Rome,1977 8, Figure 20 ), Woodman has
! #+ collapsed geographic and temporal realms. In Untitled Woodman has pressed her lower body against the decaying surface of the wall in order to transfer the dirt and paint chips onto her own flesh. She then stands against the wall, the color patterns on her skin mimicking the divisions on the wall. Woodman physically applied demarcations of past time onto her contemporary body, compressing the past and the present in a single moment. It is significant to remember Woodman's deep connection to Italy, particularly in relation to the images she created while in Rome. These photographs illustrate centuries of time colliding with a contemporary body, but we must not forget that Woodman was equally influenced by her memories and perceptions of Italy from her childhood. I find it important to note that many of Woodman's photographs are untitled, immediately positioning them to be defined by where and when they were taken. Whether read as a collapse, an expansion, or something else completely, her position as both photographer and model is a pivotal example of the role of artist as spectator and as object of spectacle. This, when infused with the writings of Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes, becomes a poignant exploration of death, memory, and time. Benjamin's famous essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction posits that the reproducibility of a photograph dims the aura and experiential necessity of tra ditional art forms. 31 The photographic image has the potential to be continually copied and repeated, recreating the illustration of a scene far removed from the original experienced moment. The portrait then becomes the ultimate example of loss as it is a record of a moment and model that are no longer there, a stilled life with the potential to exist long beyond the life of the artist, model, and present day viewer. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 31 Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," H. Arendt (ed.), Illuminations Cape, 1970, 219 226.
! #$ Photography's ability to show a documented image of the past, preserved and experienced in the future forces a reappraisal of temporality, particularly in regards to portraiture. Not only does a portrait photograph document an earlier moment, but it also documents a prior life and embodied experience. A s a removed viewer of these previously live d moments, portraiture can challenge the living to engage with the past A real time confrontation with death and ideas of the past is "not as charged as a flashback, which overwhelms awareness of the present tense, and more charged than "regular memories 32 The dual presence of the past and the present in the same moment allows for a re visitation and reinterpretation of a previously lived instance. Har king back to Benjamin's critique of the photographic capability of endless reproduction, we see both a po ssibility of physical copies and a repetition of actual lived moments. From the initial moment of address, the photograph has the never ending potential to re encounter viewer after viewer, in a looping and oscillating relationship with temporality Portrait photography addresses a future viewer and, in the instance of self portraiture, allows for the photographer to reproduce and re encounter their own stilled image. It is strikingly apparent that Woodman's self portraits reject stillness. Peggy Phel an states, "Woodman's insistence of exploding this resistance within a medium dedicate d to arresting stillness lends to her photographs a dramatic force that spil ls over the frame of the image." 33 Woodman's body becomes a recurring blur, negotiating the str ange space between images, performance, and time. A common system employed by Woodman is a series of images bearing the same name (as in the Space 2 series ) Each !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 32 Peggy Phelan, "Francesca Woodman's Photography: Death and the Image One More Time." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (Vol. 27 No. 4 2002): 979 1004. ## C>1:HJ!*)"
! #" frame informs the moment prior to it, constructing instant "re encounters" and illustrating th e temporal tension between the moment before and what is to come after. As Woodman holds the perspective as artist, model, and viewer, a tension emerges between the literal and tangible exposure of her body to an audience and the psychic depiction of self. This delicate quandary is perhaps demonstrated by her imperceptible form, as if we are witnessing the moment of indecision or her desire to escape the ( lasting hold of ) the frame. But, as Jane Blocker notes, memory can serve as the ultimate anchor from which one can claim some space in the world. 34 Because of this, I find it tremendously significant that Woodman worked in a medium so intrinsically tied to time, memory, and perceptio n. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 34 Jane Bloc ker, The Odd Geometry of Time," lecture at Through the lens of Francesca Woodman, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 2012.
! ## CONCLUSION : QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWERS "I was inventing a Language for people to see" Francesca Woodman, January 19, 1981 Perhaps what is so vexing in Woodman's work is the aura of complexity and contradiction. No one answer or explanation could truly satisfy the viewer. Ignoring the social and the political components of her work is just as naive as negating the power of her work as studies of the photographic medium. Her work r esists analytical frameworks or modes of understanding with the paradoxically blunt and yet subtle approach that is present in all of her work. I must admit that my earliest observations on Woodman were short sighted. I worked hard to reject the feminis t r eading of her work in order to highlight the photographic elements at play. Woodman's work is highly personal, and consequently infused with feminist themes, and it is through these shifts in perspectives that she is able to deeply examine the intensity of the body in relation to passages of time I would resist calling her work autobiographical, or for that matter, even referring to her images as self portraits She transforms her body into material, manipulating our understanding of a self portrait' by creating immeasurable distance between herself as photographer and herself as subject/object. Woodman's gaze rarely addresses the camera or the viewer. It is as though she divorced herself fr om the intimacy normally tied
! #% between the medium and artist, in order to project and engulf the viewer in whatever intimacy was left intact. In so many of her photographs, the subject becomes flattened and/or distorted through light, shadow, over exposure or obstruction. I see this as resistance to a fixed personal identity, but also a larger comment on the photograph's inability to reveal the truth the "reality" of any subject. Further, if Woodman's photographs are viewed as more autobiographical illust rations, the works become tiresome reflections of themselves: images of Woman as seen through the eyes of others. She is a lways aware of how she is being defined (as woman), and always negotiating between inside feelings and outside projections. This idea of an overall heightened consciousness seems particularly salient in light of her quote: "You cannot see me from where I look at myself." 35 It is as if she is fully acknowledging a denial/resistance to being classified by the male gaze or pre established social constructs. Perhaps it is through this that she has set the stage for a new representation, one that exis ts outside of a "self portrait." Considering the relative "newness" of photography, Woodman had the opportunity to engage and draw influence from almost all of the significant movements in its history. Perhaps it is the seamless combination of Victorian Pictoralism, Surrealism, Modernism, and Feminist Body Art motifs that make Woodman 's photographs haunting and potentially even anachronistic The depth of time represented in Woodman 's photographs facilitate s nostalgia for a moment space, and place that is inaccessible to the viewer. Bewilderingly, I believe it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! #& Simon "An intimate mode of looking: Francesca Woodman's photographs". Emotion, Space and Society. 3;1. 28.
! #& is the presence of these inaccessible realms that ai ds in maintaining a sense of contemporary relevance in Woodman 's photographs. It is my suggestion that Woodman's work should be unde rstood in the same manner as it was made: juxtapositions of extremes, coming together, existing in unison and pushing at the frame of the body, the frame of the photograph, and frame of categorization. Through the resistance to being boxed in, within the physical space of the photograph and frame s of perception, Woodman's work will con tinue to impose disorder on the structures where space, time, and bodies intersect.
! #' Figure 1 Francesca Woodman, Caryatid New York, 1 980; diazotype ; 227.3 x 92.1 cm. Location Unknown (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman )
! #( Figure 2 Francesca Woodman, Some Disordered Geometries, New York, 1981. Silver gelatin print. Dimensions and location unknown. ((photograph provided by Ch ris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! #) Figure 3. Francesca Woodman, Self Portrait at Thirteen Boulder, Colorado, 1972 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! #* Figure 4. Edward Weston, Nude 1927. Silver Gelatin Print. 8 x 10 (20.32x 25.4). Location unknown.
! %+ Figure 5. Aaron Siskind. Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation 94, 1961. Gelatin silver print, 27.9 x 26.1 cm. Location unknown.
! %$ Fig ure 6. Man Ray, Lee Miller's Neck 1929 Silver Gelatin Print. Man Ray Trust, Paris/VG Bild Kunst, Bonn 2008
! %" Figure 7, Francesca Woodman, Self Deceit 4 Rome, 1978. Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! %# Figure 8 Francesca Woodman, Space Squared, Providence, Rhode Island 1975 76. Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! %% Figure 9. Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Roma, 1977 7 8. Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! %& Figure 10. Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Rhode Island, 1976. Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! %' Figure 11. George Brassa Nude 1932. Gelatin Silver Print. 5 5/8 x 9! in. (14.3 x 23.5cm.) (Copyright by Gyula Halasz 74, Rue de la Glacire ) Figure 12. Francesca Woodman, Untitled, New York 1979 80. Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! %( Figure 13. Francesca Woodman, Study for Space2, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975 7, Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! %) Figure 14. Francesca Woodman, Untitled (Space 2 ) Providence, Rhode Island, 1975 78 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! %* Figure 15. Francesca Woodman, Temple Project, New York, 1980 Diazotype collage. 440 282.4 cm (173 1/4 111 3/16 in.), Metropolitan Museum of Art, (Gift of George and Betty Woodman, 2001)
! &+ Figure 16. Francesca Woodman, Space2 Providence, Rhode Island, 1976 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! &$ Figure 17 Francesca Woodman, Untitled Providence, Rhode Island 1976 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! &" Figure 18. Jan van Eyck Arnolfini Portrait, 1434 82.2 cm x 60 cm, Oil on oak, The National Gallery of Art, UK
! Figure 19, Angel series, Rome, Italy, 1977 7 8 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photograph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! &% Figure 20, Untitled Rome, 1977 78 Silver Gelatin Print. Dimensions and location unknown. (photog raph provided by Chris Townsend, Francesca Woodman)
! && BIBLIOGRAPHY Armstrong, Carol M., and M. Catherine de Zegher. 2006. Women artists at the millennium Cambridge,Mass.: MIT Press, 2006. Avgitidou, Angeliki. "Performances of the Self." Digital Creativity Vol. 14, No. 3: 131 138. 2003. Barthes, Roland. Camera lucida: reflections on photography London: Flamingo, 1984. Baudrillard, Jean. "Photographies: For Il lusion Isn't The Opposite of Reality." Fotografien, Photographies, Photographs, 1985 1998. Hatje Cantz Publishers. 1999. Benjamin, Walter. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," H. Arendt (ed.), Illuminations Cape, 1970, 219 226. Blessing, Jennifer, Judith 1961 Halberstam, and Solomon R. Guggenheim. Rrose is a Rrose is a Rrose : Gender Performance in Photography Jennifer Blessing ; with Contributions by Judith Halberstam ... [Et Al.]. New York, N.Y: Guggenheim Museum : distributed by H.N. Abrams, 1997 Brodribb, Somer. Nothing Mat(T)Ers: A Feminist Critique of Postmodernism. North Melbourne, Vic., Australia: Spinifex Press, 1992. Caruso, Rossella ."Rooms with a view on the interior." pp.143, Francesca Woodman Curate d by Marco Pierini Chadwick, Whitney, and Dawn Ades. Mirror images: Women, Surrealism, and Self Representation Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. 1998 Cunningham, Imogen. Imogen! Imogen Cunningham photographs, 1910 1973. Seattle: Published for the Henry Art Gallery by the University of Washington Press, 1974. Florence, Penny, and Nicola Foster. Differential Aesthetics : Art Practices, Philosophy and Feminist Understandings. Aldershot, Hants, England ; Burlington, VT, USA: Ashgate, 2000. Flusser Vilem in Photography theory in historical perspective: case studies from contemporary art Hilde van Gelder and Helen Westgeest, (Chichester, West
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