A photograph that made me think – Untitled, Francesca Woodman

Many components of this melancholic photograph depicts the struggle of women within a patriarchal society of the 70s (of which this photograph was taken). The most striking aspect being the nudity. The two subjects have been stripped down of their worth and are there to be gawked at, vulnerable. Furthermore, the head of the woman on the left has been completely cropped out – her identity is lost and she is objectified, only to be seen for her body. My eyes were then drawn to the woman coiled up on the floor. Not only is she hiding herself in shame, but her eye contact with the lens of the camera gives a sense of desperation. She craves emancipation and is looking to me to give allowance for this. The fact that this photograph was shot in black and white film not only gives a sombre ambience, but draws attention to this raw emotion.

At second glance, I then realised that the subjects are surrounded by clutter – within the background, midground and slightly in the foreground. It is almost as if the women have been consumed by the mass of ‘stuff’, thus connoting their objectification as well as being ‘treated like dirt’.

Emma Hugill

L1 Photography, University of the West of England


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