2007-11-28_francesca-woodman

Recently during a trip back from Art-O-Rama, an intimate yet exciting art fair held in the end of August in Marseille, we had a short stopover in Brussels for a few hours which were spent making a run for it and hopping on a train to the city centre to visit the BOZAR. While we had missed the retrospective show of celebrated Belgian painter Michaël Borremans with just a few days, we were lucky enough to catch 'WOMAN. The feminist avant-garde of the 70's'. The show, neatly curated and very extensive, featured works - as the title might indicate - by the likes of VALIE EXPORT, Hannah Wilke, Carolee Schneemann, Cindy Sherman and Martha Wilson.

Also on show, perhaps among the least expected artists, was a wonderful collection of works by the late Francesca Woodman. Some of which I believe we hadn't even ever seen images of previously. Oddly enough, the entire show will be shown at a largely unknown art museum in the somewhat small Swedish town of Halmstad next year. Not really sure how they pulled that off, but I'm considering going solely for a second look at the show.

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For those who are unfamiliar with the name, Francesca Woodman was a young New York based photographer who tragically ended her own life at the mere age of 22 by throwing herself out of a window. Despite having only practiced for a few years - rather unsuccessfully after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design - she left a vast body of work behind. Her work is characterized by staged black and white, often ghostly images which appear haunting in character and in which she often appeared herself in front of the camera.

Never before or since have "the selfie" looked so aestheticized and compelling as in Francesca Woodman's hands. Her work has been exhibited pretty much at every major art museum and then some, and her estate is represented by major prominent galleries such as Marian Goodman in NYC and Victoria Miro in London. So strong and relevant is the legacy of Francesca Woodman in contemporary art today that it tends easy to forget that the name belongs not to an artist living and working today.

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