That Strange, Spectral Light


by Zoe Pollock

Elizabeth Gumport tries to understand the resurgence of interest in Francesca Woodman, a photographer who committed suicide in 1981 at age 22:

Woodman reveals the injuries that occur in the time it takes to produce a single picture: hair turns wispy, flesh fades and stretches into smoke. The longer her shutter stays open, the blurrier and more transparent bodies will appear, until at last they disappear. Shortly before her death, she began experimenting with a particularly long development process that required her to spend several hours producing a single photograph. In the end, her camera captures not the girl but the long moment it looked at her.

(Photo: Francesca Woodman: From Angel series, Rome, 1977)