Francesca Woodman: becoming-woman, becoming-imperceptible, becoming-a-subject-in-wonder

Lone Bertelsen


We are not in the presence of a passively representative image, but of a vector of
subjectivation. (Guattari, 1995: 25) 

This article examines a number of Francesca Woodman’s staged photographs. It proposes that the whirling body emerging in much of Woodman’s work activates an ‘intermediary of relations’ (Ziarek, 1999: 14). Through this activation the photographs participate in the production of new individuations. The article draws on the work of Luce Irigaray, Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Brian Massumi and Bracha L. Ettinger. It sets to work a number of concepts that themselves operate in the in-between of relations. Concepts such as ‘air’, ‘trans-situationality’, ‘wonder’, and the ‘imperceptible’ are set in motion in order to engage with the creative forces emerging with Woodman’s becoming with the world. The article first explores the composition of Woodman’s photographs. This composition: allows the in-between to become expressive; generates wonder; and works to unground and mobilise some of our more conventional perceptual structures. Second, the article details the way that Woodman’s photographs themselves operate within a larger relational register. At this point the article begins to conceive of a photo-thought that situates the photo-work as well as the viewer within an affective in-between. Woodman’s photographs are thus not conceived of as passive representative images but rather as generative forces that participate in our becoming with the world.

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