Francesca Woodman- haunting self-portraits

Photography by Francesca Woodman (1958-1981), influential American photographer.

Francesca Woodman’s iconic oeuvre includes staged artful self-portraits exploring the relationship between body and space and aspects of identity, featuring her often nude or semi-nude body either in motion, fragmented, collapsed or disguised, like a ghostly, elusive presence in a seemingly abandoned domestic space. The uncanny mise-en-scene includes disintegrating decor and collapsing structures, contributing to the atmosphere of alienation and desolation. The haunting cinematic portraits evoke a sense of remoteness, but also timelessness, whilst alluding to the fluidity of self-image, sexuality, the subject-object dichotomy, and the ambiguity of existence and identity- also emphasised by the blur effect achieved by slow shutter speed. The choice of black and white photographs and a fashion style characteristic of previous eras further emphasises the uncanny atemporality. Whilst her photographs reveal a tendency towards and concern with neuroticism and self-dramatisation, her parents emphasise that art critics tend to infuse her work with underlying political and feminist themes whilst missing her playfulness, humour, and irony- perhaps more transparent in other less-known photographs. The mythologisation of her artistic identity might partially be influenced by her tragic suicide at the age of 22, at the end of a depressive episode.

Corey Keller, a curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, mentions: “Art students are drawn to the conviction she brought to her work and, in contrast to the cool slickness of the digital, it embraces tactility and decay in a very sensual and seductive way.”

Review: Gregory Crewdson’s cinematic photography

Gregory Crewdson’s dark, atmospheric, cinematic photographs capture perfectly framed frozen moments incorporating disconnected figures which seem to reflect the domestic and natural landscapes they inhabit; the mundane landscapes are often characterised by an eerie solitude and transformed into something otherworldly, haunting, and compelling. His photographs seem to both reveal and conceal something, creating ambiguous narratives – they are both stills of life and embodiments of the uncanny. The boundaries between life and art, between intimacy and isolation, between strange and familiar environments are blurred.

“My pictures are about everyday life combined with theatrical effect. I want them to feel outside of time, to take something routine and make it irrational. I’m always looking for a small moment that is a revelation.” – Gregory Crewdson

The cinematic nature of his work is also reflected in the complex process of creating and staging his images: there is a large crew involved in various aspects of production; props, casting, storyboards, and the natural world is heightened by the use of artificial Hollywood-style lighting and effects such as artificial rain and ice.

“My pictures are about a search for a moment—a perfect moment. To me the most powerful moment in the whole process is when everything comes together and there is that perfect, beautiful, still moment. And for that instant, my life makes sense.” – Gregory Crewdson

In his interviews, GC emphasises the importance of the visual balance between the figure, the interior space, and the exterior space; the feeling of transcience and the sense of in-between-ness evoked by his images, the enigmatic moments between other unknown moments, the visual commentary on the human condition, the portrayal of flesh, nudity, aging, vulnerability, and mortality.

Crewdson’s aesthetic incorporates American suburban surrealism, and the mise-en-scène usually features windows, mirrors, bleak settings shown in a mysterious, ghostly light. His photographs are windows into the intimacy of a world filled with hidden unsettling desires.

“I’m interested in using the iconography of nature and the American landscape as surrogates or metaphors for psychological anxiety, fear or desire.”- Gregory Crewdson

The characters created often seem alienated, immersed in deep thought, in cosmic loneliness, internal conflict, or a longing for something ineffable. Their expressions are pensive, focused on something beyond the world depicted, at times introspective. The feelings evoked are anticipation – frozen in time, subconscious disquiet, and estrangement.

“I really love that dynamic between beauty and sadness…there’s always these moments of quiet alienation, the sense of disconnect, but also, these moments of possibility.”- Gregory Crewdson

Gregory-Crewdson-cinematic-photography-1Crewdson’s photography reminds us of the suspense, sadness, and solitude of Edward Hopper’s paintings, of Diane Arbus’ bizarre and psychologically intense photographic portraits of people on the margins of society, of William Eggleston’s saturated depictions of seemingly normal, mundane settings behind which something disturbing seems to lurk; as well as the surreal quality of the films of David Lynch.

Crewdson’s series include Cathedral of Pines, Twilight, and Beneath the Roses.

Review: John Santerineross – neo-symbolist photographer


hushJohn Santerineross
, considered a neo-symbolist photographer, creates dark, sinister, erotic imagery whilst focusing on conveying moods and evoking states of mind, an approach favoured by the symbolists in art in general. Neosymbolism explores mystical, emotional, spiritual, as well as sensual themes, the unconscious mind and dreams, metamorphoses of good and evil, the connection between image and soul, employing private and universal symbols. Santerineross’ inspiration springs from world religions & mythology, and his controversial profane tendency to combine sexuality- particularly alternative erotic imagery with religious iconography has attracted both admiration and criticism. Whilst in some photography magazines he has been called “the world leading Neo-symbolist artist“, Catholic League President William A. Donohue describes Santerineross’ as a nihilist and one of the “artistic assassins and moral anarchists who want to artistically assassinate Christianity, especially Catholicism“. Santerineross does not confirm or deny any statements or interpretations due to his belief that art should appeal to each viewer on a personal level; that they should define his art for themselves rather than being limited by an explanation, another view also held by the early symbolists.
The Symbolist manifesto (1886, by Jean Moréas) emphasises:
Truth in subjective experience. Truth in apparent chaos and insanity. Truth in excess and extravagance. The risk of what was once rebellious to become conformist.

john santerineross

 

Vision of the uncanny

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These photographs are part of the Uncanny series.


I’ve felt an urge to make things historically dark and more abstract- having something to do with Duane Michals, Francesca Woodman and the photo-novel of La Jetée, and more strongly with a long inner conflict about whether colour sometimes takes away from the intensity and the visceral experience of a photograph.
Now that I finished my degree, I decided to focus more on photos individually, rather than as fragments that are going to be part of a straightforward greater narrative. By this, I mean the photograph needs to convey more on its own as well, when it comes to both aesthetic and concept.
No longer pressured by deadlines, spontaneous moments of inspiration can take over.

Of course, I will still occasionally post photographs documenting beautiful objects and places during explorations, which I am afraid will be scarcer than other times due to significant commitments until January or February.

Dolls and witch balls

York Castle Museum period rooms and Victorian aesthetic:

I. Reconstruction of a Victorian parlour, re-imagining the life of a middle class family residing in the York suburbs of the 19th century.york-castle-museum-dolls-room-vintageyork-castle-museum-blog-doll-headeryork-castle-museum-photography-closeupyork-castle-museum-vintage-pianoyork-castle-museum-vintage-room-photographyyork-castle-museum-vintage-room

II. 19th century Moorland Cottage: the living room of a rural cottage.york-castle-museum-photography-food-vintageyork-castle-museum-art-photography-witchball

III. 1700s Dining room bookyork-museum-1700s-dining-room-blog

IV. Victorian Street, shot from above, with a view of the Victorian hearse.victorian-street-york-museum

V. Dead end alley, with clothes hung for drying from the upper floors, and a paper warning residents about city water diseases. Right next to this, there is an old clothes’ shop.victorian-signs-york-museumvictorian-street-lamp-york-museum-alleyvictorian-clothes-shop-york-museum-blog

Stepping on the grounds of York Castle Museum is an enchanting experience, with its accurately designed period rooms, gloomy Victorian streets, fashion displays, artefacts, people dressed in authentic clothing, galleries, train simulation, projections of actors on dark cell walls telling real stories from the prison records, and so much to think about when you read the inscriptions.