Francesca Woodman committed suicide at the age of 22 in 1981. Her works are obviously that of a still-young photographer and it is sad that we will never see what caliber of imagery she could have produced, had she lived a “normal” life. And sadly, I wonder if she would have had a show of this magnitude at a major museum, if she hadn’t committed suicide.
This huge exhibition contains all black and white prints, rather on the small side, mostly centered on the female human form, nudes – many set-up shots of her own body. Long exposures, vintage dresses, montages, blurred movements and stark, lonely abandoned rooms. Some stuck me as obvious student shots, amatuer in their subject matter and composition, not really museum quality. However, others were extraordinarily powerful, speaking of a woman’s despair – about self doubts, body image, sexuality and isolation. These pieces are strong feminist rejections and obsessions of the male induced beauty image. Many are accompanied by hand written captions and commentary from Francesca which lead us to ponder the damage done by stereotyping, media and advertising.
The show at SF Moma is up through February 20, 2012 and we strongly recommend this powerful and haunting exhibition.