The forms fade and are no more than a dream, / a sketch slow to come / on the forgotten canvas, and that the artist completes / only by memory.
- Charles Baudelaire
.. . . .Remembering well requires reopening wounds in a particular way, one which people cannot do by themselves . . .
—Richard Sennett, from “Disturbing Memories” p.283
Francesca Woodman was not trying to disappear. She was not recording a slow erasure. Maybe she was recording how knit she was to the world. How terrifying that is. Maybe she was trying to reveal herself in things. I think there was an essential undoing and regeneration that Francesca saw and felt pulled by. Her work is full of movement. This is not the movement of erasure, it is an aching push within time. Saw this documentary the other night that ostensibly was about her:
But it wasn't about her, it was about memory. We don't get to choose how we are remembered. What happens is other people's memories of you blend, the more they talk about you; those left remake you in their minds. In Gravity and Grace, Simone Weil says we suffer because the departed, the absent has become unreal... his absence is very real - henceforward it is his way of appearing. To not embrace this absence creates suffering in us, because our memory, our memories, are incapable of bringing that person back to the physical world. We are incapable of creating their wholeness, and by such an attempt, by repeated attempts, create in ourselves a palpable void. Whether or not we have a choice about the creation of this void is the mystery.