Francesca Woodman: Zigzag at Victoria Miro Mayfair
The quiet and simple curatorial decisions Victoria Miro Mayfair has taken in this exhibition effortlessly supports the drama that conducts itself for the most part in the eight-by-ten-inch prints. The 25 works by American artist Francesca Woodman (1958-1981) are small trappings of moments of impetus and stillness, of curve and corner. The works being shown have been selected for their clear reflection of the artist’s obsessive search for abstract geometrical forms in her environment, namely the zigzag. The black and white and occasional sepia tone positives articulate this graphic nature in the compositions.
Each picture has a distinct atmosphere. Those featuring Woodman’s body such as Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island (1976) suggest ghostly momentum and somehow echo on the eye. As though to highlight the minute fraction of time that’s been captured, the difference of a millisecond would alter the image drastically. Woodman is an artist who made her images work on many levels. They are arresting as silhouette-like impressions, with bold contrast in some and barely there white-on-white compilations of flesh of fabric in others.
The narrative piques viewers fascination as to what is going on outside the frame of the picture as well as how the content came to be. The works demand thoughts about how she might have achieved such an image working alone. Woodman’s use of mirrors (Untitled, New York, 1979-80) and props, including doorways, picture frames and glass cabinets, add elements of the illusory magic trick, often causing confusion to the viewers’ sense of perspective. There is an emotional response that is so fruitful in Woodman’s work. She celebrates her surroundings, seeking the shadows or hiding at times in the light, and they are beautiful photographs shot with a personal tenderness. Her gifts for visual rhyming and of course her anticipation and cultivation of strong shapes and the potential in choreographing the body to be a versatile material are documented superbly.
The most unusual piece is undoubtedly, but perhaps not coincidentally, titled Zig Zag Study of New York 1980. It’s unique because there is a trail; a stitching together of her visual iconography and presented as kind of amassed linear collage. The exhibition as a whole is a good support for the case of savouring images and further investigating the formal and poetic qualities of photography, particularly with an artist who produced time-costly pictures prolifically.
Zigzag is at Victoria Miro Mayfair until 4th October 2014, for further information visit here.