Thursday, February 1, 2001

The Multiple Personae of Francesca Woodman and Isabelle Eberhardt

Experimental Bios by Elisabeth Subrin and Leslie Thornton

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

How can one distill the complex disorder of passionately lived lives and recast them in electronic images? Elisabeth Subrin and Leslie Thornton take aesthetically daring approaches to this dilemma in their works which explore, respectively, the life and work of photographer Francesca Woodman (1958-1981) and writer/adventurer Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904). In The Fancy (2000, Bay Area premiere), Subrin continues her rigorous exploration of biographical forms (as in Shulie), here reorganizing and re-framing information from catalogues on Woodman’s work to raise questions about history and fantasy, female subjectivity, and issues of authorship. Thornton’s now-classic 1987 There Was an Unseen Cloud Moving is a dazzling, frenetic piece which juxtaposes archival tidbits with re-enacted scenes of Eberhardt’s life, played by six different actresses, to portray the rebellious energy of this young woman who left Europe to travel extensively in North Africa, where she converted to Islam, dressed as a man and wrote essays on Islamic life. (Leimbacher)