Francesca Woodman Part 2

Continued from yesterday’s post (see first part of text here: https://themindofmilla.com/2016/03/23/francesca-woodman-part-1/)

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Francesca Woodman, Untitled, MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1980 © George and Betty Woodman NB: No toning, cropping, enlarging, or overprinting with text allowed.

Although sexuality is inherent to Woodman’s work, it is not the primary objective given her predominantly raw treatment of it. There is a sensitivity to the way she portrays the female nude which distils the sexual components that are inevitably present. In some instances however she is more willing to be sexually explicit, as in the case of ‘Untitled’ (1980, pictured above). Through the framing of the shot and the absence of the lower half there is the suggestion of sexual occurrences. Her facial expression seems to emphasise this possibility. She also uses a fur-based prop which accentuates the smoothness of her skin and feminine elements such as the erect nipple. Contrast to this highly visible sexual component, there are more subtle depictions of the female form as demonstrated by ‘Untitled’ (1979-80, pictured below). In this instance the mirror reflection becomes the subject of the photograph and the body more of an aside. Mirrors are a common prop employed by Woodman, which highlight the theme of representation and self. Given all the connotations that a mirror holds, the presence of this object within her work furthers the exploration of bodily image and form.

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Props were often employed by Woodman in constructing her photographs. Mirrors, doors, shells, tables, fabric and food are just a few of the objects that she utilised. These are all objects originating from the domestic realm, which demonstrates Woodman’s interest in gender. It is amazing to think that all Woodman required in constructing her images was a room, a tripod, some objects and herself. Such simple tools yet the results are so complex. Despite the minimalist assortment of items depicted, she pushed photography to its limits through the experimental use of slow shutter speed and interesting photographic stand points. Woodman’s work is sensitive yet interrogative in its dynamic exploration of the female figure. Although the tragedy surrounding her death will always be in the background to her work, that is where it will firmly remain given her compelling, iconic and beautiful oeuvre.

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