This intimate show of 25 works, focuses on the late American photographer’s use of the zigzag as a compositional device
Arms outstretched, wrapped in bark, mimicking the slender trunk of a silver birch tree. Lying on a scabby carpet, arm flung across the floor with a snake weaving its way over the acanthus pattern. Palms splayed against glass, attempting to keep balanced as the blurred body crams itself into a display cabinet. These are just a few of the situations in which the late American photographer Francesca Woodman captured herself.
Yet the subject of Woodman’s beguiling images was never just herself. She didn’t make simple self-portraits. Rather, she used her body like any of the objects in her ambiguous compositions.
Focusing on her use of the zigzag as a compositional device, this intimate display of 25 works includes ten newly released images from Woodman’s estate. There are the recurring settings of dilapidated building interiors with wooden floorboards and, as you’d expect, the naked female body. Bent limbs echo the angles of room corners. Slanting elements, often furniture, penetrate the square frame of each print. Woodman is always present, but obscured either as an apparition, blurred by a long exposure or averting her face from the camera lens.
Incorporating collage and disparate imagery, three large-scale, sepia-tinged studies form an intriguing contrast to Woodman’s small, square format, black-and-white images. Their, experimental, sketchbook-like nature offers an alternative perspective on an artist who, despite shooting around 800 images during her career, is still mainly remembered for her mysterious suicide, aged 22, in 1981. The myths surrounding Woodman’s death frequently detract from her talent. These aren’t the visual musings of a depressive female. They’re explorations of a medium by an inquisitive and brilliant young artist.