Francesca Woodman / Documentary

If you are interested in Francesca Woodman I recommend this eerie documentary which presents her life through the discourse of her artist parents. The Woodmans (2010) is on Netflix. In case you don’t have access I found a free version on YouTube, except it comes with Spanish subtitles.

If Woodman interests you, I highly recommend An Hourglass Figure: On Photographer Francesca Woodmanan essay by poet and writer Ariana Reines. It is best work I have ever read on Woodman.

Francesca Woodman, Space2, 1976, black-and-white photograph, 5 2/5 in. x 5 1/5 in.

Francesca Woodman, Space2, 1976, black-and-white photograph, 5 2/5 in. x 5 1/5 in.

She and her figure, which is also her but is not, but which is also a she, and not an it. A problem as in, “How do you solve a problem like Maria,” and a problem as in a problem that is real.

She is a problem because she is a seducer, and I — I mean we — love to be seduced, though we also resent it, and she is a problem because she is a suicide, and suicides are seductive because we all want to die sometimes, and dead young women artists and dead women artists of any age are a problem because it has always been easier for this culture to love their artworks when they, the women, are not alive to interfere with our relations with them, and her precocity was and remains a problem because of its completeness and because precocity is also always resented and dismissed, and she is a problem because it has historically been too easy to praise what is dead and too difficult to nurture what lives …

… And by “she” as I said I mean the figure of her. I mean “Francesca Woodman” the name and everything it has come to signify, and her images and all the sensations they have produced and do produce, I mean every stupid thing and every true thing that has accreted around her aura and I mean the very idea of a figure in time, because time was her medium, not herself. Time itself was her medium. But also within her figure and enclosed within the aura of her figure is the fact that her body was the medium through which she transubstantiated or transfigured ordinary time into actual spirit …

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3 comments

  1. The essay written by Ariana Reines is absolutely beautiful. Such an inspiring writer, I look forward to reading more of her work now.
    I had always taken pleasure in viewing Woodmans’ work but I had not gone that further step to understand or attempt to understand her background and her relations to environment and body through her medium. It is all quite overwhelming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you might enjoy Ariana’s poetry, Zara.

      I’m a Poet and I Don’t Know It

      I am so broke
      Maybe I am a poet
      I wonder.

      I eat three bowls of cereal in a row
      I only eat cereal when I am broke
      When I am really broke I don’t eat anything
      I eat pills or nothing
      Maybe I am a poet

      Sometimes a wealthy woman gives me money because I am a poet
      A great one, she says, and that I deserve it
      The money.
      Money and deserving it
      Are a subject in American poetry.
      Right now I feel like a poet.

      I want to have sex with somebody
      But I just can’t.
      I am a poet

      Then I have sex with somebody because I’m a poet
      So what if I look like a chipmunk if I look like sex
      I’m a poet and I know how to do it.
      It is a narrow way to say something, saying ‘I’m a poet.’

      I am this I am that I am not the other thing.
      It is boring to say ‘fucking.’
      I’ve had enough of it.

      I can smell my friend’s pot but I’m not smoking it.
      I’m writing this poem because I’m a poet.
      When I’m broke my soul stands outside my face in a parody
      Of the way my soul bursts outside of my face when I’m in love.
      Knowing what it feels like to have nothing is part of being a poet
      Though alone it is nothing. You know it.

      When a man says to me, I’m a nomad, and I look at the gold chain
      Bright against his brown chest, and he says, I’m from the Bronx,
      I’m a caricature
      I’m Italian and I wear a medallion, I smile because I’m a poet.

      I’m Muhammad Ali over here, and you know it
      Accept no substitutions, you can be it without knowing it,
      I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
      When I die
      Give birth to me in your mind
      Look
      Let’s just be poets.
      It’s high time you
      Quit your job
      And while you’re at it
      Stop calling your mom, drop out of school
      Bills are not to be paid by you.
      Walk on the world and know it.
      You can be that and even show it.
      Put out your hand and watch the sky jizz into it.
      You’re a poet.
      So you feel sad? Row it
      Halfway across the world.
      It is time for you to open the doors of your houses
      It is time for you to stop thinking about fashion
      It is time for your style to be blood
      It is time for you to dump your boyfriend
      It is time for you to kiss your girlfriend goodbye
      It is time for you to love things like the shaking leaves more
      Or at least as much as the heavy cock bursting like a popup book into your mouth
      If pussies had eyes they’d be the sky
      I may not be on drugs but I am high

      I am not broke now
      But I am still a poet
      And I’ll be broke tomorrow
      My teeth are bad and I can’t afford to fix them
      The man humming next to me is getting murdered by me in my mind
      Humming and typing, his dry red hands, I will see him dead
      In my mind before he stops humming, like those pianists who
      Play Bach and hum but much less charming.
      Die, mind-destroyer.
      Die die die.

      Sometimes in public I take off my shirt
      A lot of people do that
      There are photoblogs in which beautiful girls are doing it
      I’m not a beautiful girl when I take my shirt off
      I’m a poet.

      I only want to fuck people who are broke and have no ambition
      What is wrong with me
      I am such a slut for you
      That couple over there
      Their zits bright in the subway glare
      Maybe I’m a poet

      Sweat equity is a real thing
      And some things are better left unsaid
      Maybe all of these things
      Rolling like a penny
      Deeper and deeper into the world

      –Ariana Reines

      Liked by 1 person

    2. There is also the poet — Anne Boyer —

      The Revolt of the Peasant Girls

      Our lights had been dimmed to lavender wanting things, hugging Care Bears, hoping for Stalingrad or Rick Springfield. In the earliest July of the decade, immediately preceding a series of multi-township Pioneer Days, we received our first visions.
      These came in dreams:
      1. The dream in which our brothers’ Levi 501s turned to dust
      2. The dream in which our huskies became rifles
      3. The dream in which our little sisters rerouted the train tracks
      4. The dream in which we were bricks
      We met after church to discuss them. The preliminaries of our existence were superstition. Those of us who were the descendants of the indigenous people read program notes from a collection of friendship bracelets. Those of us who were the descendants of witches poked our skin with safety pins till the blood leaked out in code. Those of us who were the descendants of the escaped slaves revealed a 32 book series about life as guerillas in a sweet valley: we drank Mr. Pibb and began our exegesis.

      Though the fathers and brothers and potential husbands who fought us and fell are entombed and their monuments decorated with cockscomb and digitalis, we wait for the earth to open and spit out our bodies to the statisticians.
      Now we are like any heroes: forgotten. The French braids and beaded cornrows are still attached to our skulls, but our aquamarine-and-heart stud earrings fallen from our pierced ears to the earth. If we were going to be resurrected, it would be in our decayed Kangas, crawling out from under the mounds of Playtex and Wet-n-Wild they bulldozed over us.
      We were small, but not as small as you think.

      Though we would have preferred a pony, the revolutionary subject was a sow. The sow explained black magic, class struggle, seasonality, theories of gender, the agricultural optic. When the sow showed up, we were ten.
      Following its instruction when we slopped it, we shaped a shirt-hanger into a modem. Mom had told us all things would smell of sow after it was brought to the farm, even the Alco blouses we were dressed in. Mom said once you had a sow in the econo-scape the battle was for granted, and she should know.
      What we found when we transmitted the conditions of girlhood along these lines was the insolvency of emerging versions. It was no one’s fault: we were of calico heredity and as servants to the world’s appetites we were subject to the complex’s pastoral inferno.
      To the world we arrived in there were a few among us as prescient as the sow. We made everyone know the shame of subsistence that was our shame but not entirely. We grew against the smallest profit. How everyone had to know.
      This was the problem with a sow around, Mom said that when you left the site where the sod broke you could not hide its truth. No one milks a pig. You only slaughter it. The sow’s intelligence is unalien but still.
      The sow’s intelligence is unalien, but still there were a number of lies told along the dirt roads: one of them was innocence.
      We were told that we would possess no complexity that wasn’t the parsing out of potential meats. These were the common complaints of our bioregion: in short, note the diagram.

      We were basic. We’d earned archery badges. We played piano. We threw I-Ching. The townspeople were little Pharisees. We saw the facts under their Izod vestments.
      Who doesn’t finally emerge armed from the creek bed, antediluvian, robust?
      Who will ever forget what we did at the railroad interchange, the alleyway, the grain elevator, main street, or on one of two hills?
      The first hill was named after a conqueror: the second after the conquered. This was a site on the small patch of the conquistador’s chain mill. This was a rock drenched with indigenous blood. Later in both places generations of fleeing evacuees carved these numbers:
      7 Billion
      <3’s
      ZERO
      Generations of evacuees carved out these numbers, but this was a museum in which we the peasant girls had long planned to live: the new mall. We went long risk on belly trenches beside the aquamarine fountain. There were defaults among shop rotations where we could realize. Either in the mall or seventeen miles apart, approximately, we could stand without family on the two hills and signal victory over the sign-light of Dairy Queen.
      We were angular with battle but maintained angelic cheeks. There was never so much ovality as our faces, in the glint of field fire, packing numchuks, aluminum bats, and leaf-rakes. We had not yet met any other soldiers and so war craft had foundational allure.
      What was the rhythm of total destruction? Did it sound like Olivia Newton John? No one had yet spoken a word about strategy.

      No one had yet spoken a word about strategy but Mom. Sometimes, at nightfall, the rabbit ears jittered and the modem sent us a communiqué on sorghum.
      We set to work on our tactical gear. One suit was made of pheasant feathers. Another was made of frog legs and twine. A third, from the scales of walleyes for when we must march inside the reservoir. A fourth, from the skins of dads. A fifth involved the downy hair of varsity athletes. The sixth involved the canvas pants of the man who worked at Casey's General Store. The seventh was woven from iris leaves after June. The eighth was a coat of trash-fire. The ninth was a dress made of hymns. The tenth suit of camouflage was asphalt and power lines. The eleventh suit, they forbid from 4H.
      They forbid it from 4H because it was made of illicit skyscapes—the sunset at its most sexual. It was like the shame of walking around without tops at the town pool. But en masse, we were like bomb silos. En masse, we were like the clearest day of masterlessness.
      We met in the windbreaks, and in little hollows at their roots we pooled our weaponry. Before the battle started, Tina showed us the bottle of Jack she’d taken from her parents’ rec room bar. We were the peasant girls, and thus an army, and though no one got drunk enough among the Russian Olives, we felt, in our throats, a war song.
      It sounded nothing like giggling.
      It was imperceptible, except as insects, to the harvest crews.
      We would lay in also, at the drainage ditches and irrigation pipes and levies, waiting for the future. At first we thought all bloodshed would be pastel.

      Jenny was the first to fall, with her blond hair spiked in front, her yellow shaker-knit sweater blooming with blood and intestines, the militia from Bennington shooting their rifles from the militarized column of Ford F150s.
      We’d overestimated the power of our weaponry. We’d overestimated our tactical advantage over gym teachers.
      We’d presented a list of demands written in a pen with four-colored ink:
      1. to release every animal
      2. erasure
      3. the wilderness
      4. to always remain girls

      The people at large never answered back: they never even wept for us. We were of three classes: female, children, poor. We were of two more classes: farmers, rebels. We were of one more class: who fought their own fathers. We were of one more class: who betrayed their own mothers. We were of one more class: who received dreams and visions. We were of one more class: who took instruction from an oracular sow.
      The president, upon hearing that we had taken up arms, sent us coloring books. The sheriffs’ deputies, upon hearing we were girls, tried to rape us. The others just killed us: but to tell that story in plural is to deny the intimacy of facts.

      The Intimacy of the Facts: DEAR FUTURE GIRLS

      – See more at: http://www.pen.org/poetry/revolt-peasant-girls#sthash.IpIv6KlI.dpuf

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