Not Because My Heart is Gone; Simply The Other Side: Francesca Woodman’s Relational and Ephemeral Subjectivity at the Limit of The Image

Avant, Vol. XII, No. 1,
published under license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Anna Backman Rogers orcid-id
University of Gothenberg

Originally published in Female Agency and Documentary Strategies: Subjectivities, Identity and Activism (2017) edited by Boel Ulfsdotter and Anna Backman Rogers and reprinted here by permission from Edinburgh University Press. Accepted 16 August 2021; published 5 September 2021.
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Abstract: Francesca Woodman’s personal history, more specifically her suicide at the age of only twenty-two years old, is often used as an heuristic framework through which her highly intricate and complex photographic work is read retroactively. This essay argues that such readings fundamentally miss Woodman’s fascination with liminality and states of transition precisely in order to contain her fundamentally ambiguous images within a generic narrative that serves to cast her in the role of a tragic, female artist. Backman Rogers wholly rejects this sexist conflation of the artist’s biography with her art.

Keywords: Francesca Woodman; liminality; photography; gender; feminism; feminist art


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