—Woodman’s photographs always remind me of Duane Michals’s works. The narrative, use of lights and surrealism style. That’s what made me fascinated by her photographs. Woodman seems to obsessed with existence and reflection, it shows in her works that have a lot of ‘invisible’ theme on it. She killed herself when she was 22 by jumping from the window of her apartment in Manhattan. Its hard not to relate her suicide with her works, which are have a ‘haunting’ and afterlife feels. Like Sylvia Plath, i can’t stop asking “what would she be like right now if she didnt killed herself”.—
“Born in Colorado, she studied at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, and the body of her work was produced in response to school assignments. From her time spent in Rome on scholarship and in New York after completing her degree, she produced an oeuvre that is often described as brief yet powerfully accomplished. Woodman photographically blurred and mutated her body via a deft mastering of prolonged single exposures. In these images, her body traverses dilapidated interiors, is sometimes lodged behind disintegrating scraps of wallpaper, and often appears to move across space despite the static nature of the form, her edges foggy and shifting.”
Woodman’s genius had concrete foundations. Her mother was a successful ceramicist; her Harvard-educated father a professor of painting. From an early age, she spent long spells in Italy with her family. Clever, creative, encouraged by her parents, she soaked up every artistic trend, from postmodernism to the Baroque. When most teenagers were experimenting with make-up, she wore Victorian-style dresses and read Proust.
Distortions, faceless bodies, cropped bodies, dissolving bodies, all contribute to the idea of a constant transitionality and mutability of being. Woodman engages her body in a subtle and at times strongly dynamic physical exchange with the built environment, thus achieving the goal of both revealing and concealing her body and identity. She is the girl hidden under the detached mantel of the old fireplace, she is the woman in the wallpaper of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, imprisoned in the overlaying pattern, creeping around the circumference of the room, who is unnamed because the experience she is undergoing robs her of her identity.
Woodman claimed that she was interested in ‘the relationships that people have with space’ and created ghost and angel female bodies that move between the oppositions of inside/outside, self/ surroundings. Sollers observes in Woodman’s work that: ‘When one doesn’t really exist, except in the impossibility of being an angel … one has a tendency to float, to levitate, for space and weight obey new laws.’ The ghost-like identities of Woodman’s photographs appear like apparitions due to their unique relationship to the rooms and spaces they inhabit, defying gravity and the possibilities of human movement. The literal blurring in Woodman’s shots between the fixed subject and the space it moves through creates images of liminal and unstable figures and places. This instability works to ‘simultaneously create and explode the fragile membrane that protects one’s identity from being absorbed by its surroundings’. Just as ghosts mythologically possess the ability to ‘walk through walls’, Woodman’s female ghosts melt into and move through the locations that seemingly enclose them.
MORE OF HER WORKS HERE
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