In Francesca Woodman’s short eight-year career, she developed more than 500
photographs (Chadwick). She also produced performance videos and artist’s books. She
studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, and travelled abroad to Rome. At twenty-two
years old, in 1981, she jumped from a building on New York’s Lower East Side and ended
her life. Although her career was short, the artwork she leaves behind haunts her viewers.
The long exposure photographs portray blurry fragments of the body, juxtaposed with
unlikely exteriors and interiors; it is often unclear what exactly the viewer is meant to see.
Just as the content of these photographs is unclear, the context of these photographs is
unclear. As Isabella Pecidini, suggests: one “of the fascinating aspects of Francesca
Woodman’s imagery is its indeterminacy, its mystery. Any viewer of a picture brings herself
or himself to it, but Woodman’s imagery seems particularly adept at inviting multiple
readings” (8). Because of the plethora of options, scholars struggle to choose a specific lens
through which to read Woodman.
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