Among my pile of books yet to read as part of my studies I had ‘About Looking’ by John Berger. I have only recently been introduced to this author through my Context and Narrative Course, I read his book ‘Ways of Seeing’ and watched the accompanying BBC TV program on You-Tube which I found very interesting. I then went onto read ‘Understanding a Photograph’, in preparation for my fourth assignment. The recent sad news of John Berger’s death prompted me to read this book, ‘About Looking’.
This book is made up of a selection of essays, Berger wrote from the mid 1960’s up to the late 1970’s.
His first essay examines how man looks and sees himself; how he regards animals and his world around him and compares this to how other animals regards themselves, man and the world through their eyes.
His next essay looks at pictures by August Sander the famous farm hands going to a dance photo and another image of a local musical band posing for their photograph and he discusses how their suits give away their status in society despite their smart attire.
Also included is an essay on the works of Paul Strand. The rest of the book moves away from photography and looks at works by other artists from the 17th century such as Hals through to Artist’s such as Francis Bacon and Giacometti of the 20th.
An interesting read, Berger had his own style of writing and if you have heard him speak you can almost hear his voice coming through the pages of the book.
He was clearly very passionate about art and I am sure a nice guy to have met. I am sure all who were fortunate enough to have met him will miss him.
I have just received my report from Clive for assignment 4 and I am very pleased to learn that my essay was a total success!
Interestingly, Clive recommends that I read, ‘The Trial’ by Kafka, an author that by coincidence I have just learned of through my reading of Walter Benjamin’s 1934 essay observing the tenth anniversary of Kafka death.
Clive’s final comment is some advise for my next assignment and he quotes:
“…..this is the one you’re going to be remembered by as the final assignment the assessors will see for this module so you want to make it the pinnacle of the work. Bringing everything you’ve learned from the other assignments to bear.
Use your ‘voice’ to express a sophisticated idea in a sophisticated way. Think of the thought that went into making the scene you chose for this assignment. I think you’ve got the skills and awareness to make something really good that will leave the assessors with a very strong impression of your abilities.”
Francesca Woodman’s images I find both a little erotic and disturbing. Woodman clearly a lot of pent up sexual-tension with an artistic voice wanting to be heard. If I was to say that there was an element of narcissism in Woodman’s photos I think I would be wrong. I think that she was probably insecure about herself and her looks, yes she was very self-indulgent which may sadly have lead her to her death. I believe there are indications of her moods of depression in her images. We all sometime feel that we could just disappear and I think that Woodman acts out some of these wished imaginings in her photos. I personally, think that Woodman’s images don’t need accompanying text for the images to be appreciated. However, they communicate best as set.
Woodman clearly had mental-health issues and I wonder that perhaps the wider issue here is the stigma attached to this form of health-issue and the lack of understanding and help available for sufferers. Many artist suffer from depression as many artists by there nature are bipolar in some degree and perhaps educational institutions such as schools and colleges / universities should also watch for this and offer counselling and support. Woodman committed suicide in 1981 and over 30 years later we are still loosing talent through our lack of understanding of how to help.
Brotherus has used her naked body to put ‘a spotlight’ on herself. I think that her nakedness not only reflects her sense of vulnerability but also her lock of power and sense of naked honesty. She uses nakedness to grab the attention of the audience / viewer in order to pass on her intended message.
For me Brotherus images instil mixed feelings of sympathy and admiration for both her struggle and sadness and her honesty and dignified strength.
Some may interpret Brotherus’s work as a little self-indulgent; but I would disagree. Brotherus has used herself as a subject to bring to peoples attention issues that are often hidden. These issues she has experienced for herself and therefore can tell the story from the inside. By using herself as the model and subject she enforces the truth and her own honesty.
I don’t believe that this style of images can be imitated purely for image sake by ‘outsiders’. These images come from the heart and therefore if mimicked would lack the context that these images were created to represent. These images have been made to represent the artist own feelings and emotions and whilst the images can be replicated the emotional message the originals carry can not without some honest intent from the new artist. In this way only another artist going through similar experiences can produce similar work and would then have his or her own style and signature. Anything else would be a false facsimile.
As mentioned above, I believe that the motivation of these artist are to raise awareness of issues, that are often hidden from public-sight. Naturally these issues have to be close and personal to the artist in order for the artist to be able to be an insider and produce honest and truthful images.
I have just been reading about Francesca Woodman and looking at her images sadly Woodman died at a very early age and I am sure that had she lived she would have been successful as an Artist.
Susan Bright, comments, “It is difficult not to read Woodman’s self-portraits as alluding to a troubled state of mind.”
Looking at Woodman’s images I see a mixture of fantasy with pathos. There is a feeling of melancholy and vulnerability in her poses. There are a lot of nudes, but the images are not about the nude body but the nakedness and perhaps this was a reflection of how she felt.
I can only guess at her thoughts based upon her tragic end and not having read her diaries but this is what I read from the photographs.
However, I find Woodman’s photos both a little erotic and disturbing. Woodman clearly had a lot of pent up sexual-tension with an artistic voice wanting to be heard. If I was to say that there was an element of narcissism in Woodman’s photos I think I would be wrong. I think that she was probably insecure about herself and her looks, yes she was very self-indulgent which may sadly have lead her to her death. I think that Woodman’s images don’t need accompanying text for the images to be appreciated.
I wonder however, that Woodman clearly had mental-health issues and perhaps the wider issue is the stigma attached to this form of health-issue and the lack of understanding and help for sufferers. Many artist suffer from depression as many artists by there nature are bipolar in some degree and perhaps educational institutions such as schools and colleges / universities should also watch for this and offer counselling and support. Woodman committed suicide in 1981 and over 30 years later we are still loosing talent through our lack of understanding of how to help.