I was looking at an article about Francesca Woodman's extraordinary work yesterday and saw in so many of her raw, revelatory photographs someone looking intensely at herself, inside and out, as if searching for her true identity, yet finding contradictory images that must have been difficult to reconcile. Like Diane Arbus, another female photographer who committed suicide, the work is brave, the eye utterly committed, the impact visceral.
It struck me that Francesca Woodman was doing with photography something similar to what the dramatist Sarah Kane explored in her plays; a response to a type of psychosis that is fascinated by our potential for violence in a way that those who self harm find it a type of inverse affirmation of being alive. Sarah Kane also committed suicide at an early stage in what everyone acknowledges would have been a hugely original career, and It is as if they all recognised a troubled angel within. An angel that seems at one and the same time innocent, even pure, but which is also very dark. Both Woodman and Arbus forced themselves to face painful psychological realities that could not be, should not be sanitised, because their creativity appears to be a necessary way of confronting it head on. Sarah Kane, using of a language that was poetic, austere and at times surreal, also derived her creativity from a similar troubled source. Therefore, it is not surprising that all three pushed the boundaries of what could be photographed/said, and challenged HOW this could be done, each in her own genre.