Anna McNay

Review of Francesca Woodman: On Being An Angel at Foam, Amsterdam


Francesca Woodman: On Being An

Foam, Amsterdam

18 December 2015 – 9 March 2016

The sad thing about Francesca
Woodman’s work is that it cannot be reviewed without hindsight and reference to
the photographer’s premature death at the age of 22, when she jumped from a building
in East Side, New York. As with her contemporary, Ana Mendieta (1948-85), who
died falling from a 34th floor apartment in Greenwich Village, critics and
academics have sought to see her work as a premonition of what was to come,
with the female subject – commonly Woodman herself – melting into the
background, becoming indistinguishable from the wallpaper or crumbling stone of
the derelict building, “anticipating her own disappearance”.1 Woodman’s
photographs, like Mendieta’s, often depict a silhouette or trace, a blurred
impression, a delicate and ghostly absence of the subject, suggesting a sense
of has-been or might-have-been. Did the teenage girl foresee her untimely end?

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