Exhibition: – 24 Oct 2010
Palazzo della Ragione
Piazza Dei Mercanti
Palazzo della Ragione Fotografia
Piazza Dei Mercanti
Francesca Woodman Palazzo della Ragione, Milano www.mostrawoodman.it The exhibition will present 116 photos, 15 of which are being exhibited exclusively in Milan, and five videos that will trace the artist's career, which abruptly ended when she was only 22 years old. The daughter of artists - her mother, Betty, was a ceramist and her father, George, was a painter and a photograph - Francesca Woodman started to work when she was only thirteen with her first camera and using the self-timer. In the following years, she continued to be the privileged subject of her photos, portraying herself both in domestic contexts, preferring vintage and decadent settings, and amidst nature, alone or with friends and in the course of expressly planned activities and performances. She anticipated tendencies and themes that would define contemporary art in future years and, as heiress of the western artistic tradition of self-portrait, Francesca Woodman amazed the artistic community through the maturity and conceptual coherence of the works she created in nine years of intense work. The exhibition traces Woodman’s footsteps through sites of her most significant photographic series and through the most important passages of her story. One of them takes place in Boulder, Colorado, from her years in high school, another covers an intense academic period at the Rhode Island School of Design of Providence and finally, the 1977-1978 photographic series which was taken in Rome. New York and the unpolluted nature of the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire represent the extreme phases of her work. The striking set up of the Palazzo will also house the recreation of the installation of Swan Song, produced by Francesca in Providence in 1978 and on display for the first time in Italy for this exhibition. The 5 large-size photographs (approximately 1 square meter in size) represent a break from the traditional practice in which works were hung at eye-level. Woodman arranged for this work to be hung at different heights, some very high and others near the floor, according to the narrative flow of the images - the "swan song" to which the title alludes - and taking advantage of the architectonic characteristics of the context in a dialogue between artist and space that becomes part of the work. Five video fragments, a part of the few videos produced by the artist during her courses at RISD, recently restored and published by the Estate, complete the exhibition. As witnesses of the artist’s work, the videos are a useful tool that shows us the artist, model and director at the same time. Almost all of the work by Francesca Woodman focuses on the relationship with her body, object and subject of the photos, and her eyes. She never offers an image of herself that is idealized, heroic or filled with special meaning; on the contrary, her image is always inserted in the universe of things, as if she were a part of it. The body of the artist is often absorbed by the plaster of the walls, plays with its own shadow, appears from doors and windows, and hides among furniture and objects. Light lessens the consistency of her body instead of exalting it, or it polishes shapes as long as they are caught as fragments, as details. One of the most characteristic and recurrent traits of her style is the absence of the face, cut by the framing, or only hidden by masks, by the hair or by a twisting movement of the neck and bust, and the performatory dimension, well evidenced even in the few minutes of video filmed by the artist.