No matter how long or short the run of an exhibition, audience numbers can be predicted as high for the opening days and the closing days of the exhibition. This is just in the nature of how viewers plan schedules and reflects nothing on the content of the exhibition. This weekend was the second to last weekend of the Francesca Woodman exhibition currently on show in Victoria Miro; for lack of a better phrase one could have described the thoroughfare at a consistent “packed house” level. I suspect this high tide of audience interest had less to do with the closing of the show and more to do with the mystery and photographic genius of Woodman’s short and energetic career.
To start at the beginning, Woodman’s iconic Self-portrait at 13 shows the artist in the background with her hair masking her identity whilst holding the camera shutter-release cable. The blurring of the foreground melds with the camera cable as if the content of the photograph is being pulled into an imaginary vortex of Woodman’s hand. With every photograph there is so much consideration and control, along with a freedom of expression and pure experimentation.
The photographs sit between experimental photography, visual illusion, and performance. The body becomes an object with the use of surrounding furniture, architecture, household items and landscaping. Woodman utilizes a slight of hand with her camera lens that well seasoned magicians would hope to achieve with their acts. The simple gestures captured within these photos are completely encapsulating and engaging because of the open narratives that spring out of the simple compositions and juxtapositions that are created with a body in context of a space.
(Images courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro. Francesca Woodman, Self-portrait at 13, Boulder, Colorado, 1972, gelatin silver print, 20.3 x 25.4 cm, 8 x 10 in, Untitled, Rome, Italy, 1977-1978, gelatin silver print, 20.3 x 25.4 cm, 8 x 10 in)