Francesca Woodman

Pieces from my most recent journal.
I love to write.

Stanza 1:
I want to have a complex conversation with you, so slow down and hit the breaks for me. Just listen with all your senses so you can taste my flavor with your tongue.

Stanza 2:
There is some innate terror in making a decision, a comprehensible choice that cannot be altered.

Stanza 3:
I feel as though I am becoming more and more closed off from others as well as myself, like I am trapped behind a fence of my own insanity. I wonder if I am stifling my own ability to interact and communicate or if I am losing my ability to relate and communicate entirely, and I wonder whether or not I ever  had this ability to begin with.

Stanza 4:
I will lace my body with strings of snake scales and venom, standing nude in a shower behind a clear plastic curtain. Bowed legs and dry toes will grip tiled floor as I stick out my arm, palm to the camera and fingers spread apart like countries at war, refusing to surrender. 

Stanza 5:
I am an artist I need to be but I feel talentless and I have no vision I am a failure I feel unable to ever successfully create anything I am furious I want to destroy everything in front of me I am furious I have no talent no vision nothing I feel like nothing I am blank paper.

Stanza 6:
In this instant I feel like I am slowly dying. My art is killing me. I am not an artist. I am pitiful. I feel like I am Francesca Woodman. I wonder if one day my creation will kill me. I despise art because everything I createfails me. I cannot create. I love none of my work. It is fully and completely amateur. I want to be like Francesca Woodman. I want my art to be incredible.

Stanza 7:
Out of all the words I want to say
I've chosen the ones in front of me. 

Stanza 8:
It comes in waves that rock you
That rearrange the sand in your dunes.

Stanza 9:
It blankets you like tree bark,
gray,  black, and ashen
welds down the metal
as sparks fly.

A poem:
I am alive.
I am cold breath watered down
Into paste to pave sidewalks.
I am skin gripping bone with
Webbed toes that swim in ice.
I am paint smeared fingernails
Grasping glass window panes that
Feel pain because I am not an 
Artist I simply observe with all
My senses. My veins are
Waterways like aqueducts and they
Pore concrete down my 
Throat when I sleep but I
Still breathe. Like carriers of 
A disease my mind sends
Me messages and I step speak
Swallow see smell hear my
Own thoughts above all other
Voices soon to be lost in 
My own vined jungle but I 
See sky like earth and I
Step on the concrete and walk
Towards blindness because I really can't
See and that's why I wear
Glasses so I can sharpen the 
Blurred lines along with the
Pencil in my hand. Because if 
I don't record and connect
And create a concrete lineage
Of lives lost and linked I will
Step in cracked concrete and
Fall endlessly like dropped kitchenware
And crash and shatter like
A dish on stripped linoleum.
So to make it last I shade gray 
And make marks so my body
Can speak swallow see smell
And hear before blindness
Finds me and I fall and slip
Against cemented cracks in 

I recently watched The Woodmans, and I feel as though my life has been altered significantly (check it out via Netflix). It's odd how the moments that are supposed to change us, like kisses and sex and school and travel lack impact in comparison to the small moments that shake us like shattered glass. My life has been significantly made different from the small moments and experiences, many of which I have created myself. My words and thoughts bring me closer to conclusions I long to make, movies and books stretch my perspectives like elastic. And with this movie, it happened again.

The documentary profiles photographer Francesca Woodman's parents, who discuss her work, career, and suicide. The film creates an intimate portrait of an incredibly talented artist, and while her story is sad, the beauty of her work never escapes you. Her photographs are shown constantly throughout the film, and they are so beautiful and different and startling and creative that I could stare at each one for hours and be completely content and mystified. The movie greatly inspired me, and I could not help but feel a sense of fury when I realized that I would never be as talented, progressive, and inspirational as Francesca Woodman.

The film speaks for itself, and I would rather not discuss it at length, for when others explain their own connections to a film, it often seems we search for those same connections when we watch it. But that is irrational, and often leads to disappointment, for the ways this film will speak to you will be far different from how it spoke to me, and I do not want to influence your expectations. I hope you watch it though, and when you watch it do not search for life altering moments, because if you do you won't find them. But hopefully you watch it and enjoy it as much as I did.

All images taken by Francesca Woodman.

1 comment:

  1. You know your potential because you are unsettled with the current state of your art. I stumbled upon your blog this morning and I thought you might find this quote by the one and only Ira Glass encouraging. “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”


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