Contextual studies task 2: Major essay
Name: Adrianna Keczmerska
Tutor name: Matt Moseley Group 3
Word count: 744 words
Choose two artists whose work addresses identity. Discuss a single work by each artist. Explain the ideas each artist is trying to represent and how they are expresses.
In this essay I am going to talk about two artists whose work addresses identity. The two people that I have chosen are Claude Cahun and Eadweard Muybridge, who also were modern artists in the 20th Century. I am going to discuss a single work by each of them, explain the ideas they are trying to represent and how they are expressed. The two art works I chose are 'What do you want from me?' (Cahun, 1928) and 'Head-spring, a flying pigeon interfering' (Muybridge, 1885).
Both, Cahun and Muybridge were photographers and that is why I have chosen to talk about their work particularly as it relates to my speciality which is photography and deal with the theme of identity which in my opinion is rather interesting.
Firstly I am going to talk about Cahun's art work. On the photograph she took we can see Siamese twins which by itself sounds a bit scary and unusual and at the time (1928) could of seemed a bit monster-like. Their bodies are colaborated with each other but we can see two separate heads, both completely shaved. One of the heads is looking out of the picture, with the mouth slightly open and the eyes strongly focused on something which is invisible to the outside viewer. His head is slightly tilted to the left as if he was trying to avoid any contact with his twin. His sibling is looking at him, therefore we can only see the left hand-side of his face. As we look closely, his not fully open eye might fool the viewer a bit because they can't guess whether the evilish looking twin is in fact looking at his brother or what it could appear to be the floor. His pointed nose kind of reminds us of a bird's beak. Similarly to his twin's, the mouth is slightly open as if he wanted to talk to his brother. The mood of this photograph is really mysterious. This relates to Cahun's interest in horror films.
Fairground exhibitions of physical abnormality fascinated the surrealists. In 1929 the surrealist journal Varietes published photographs of 'freaks', including Lionel the Man-Dog and Miss Violetta the Trunk-Woman. In my opinion it is a strong evidence of identity because it shows us that at the beginning of the 1930's, people like the Siamese twins were seen as freaks, something rare and unusual, perhaps scary. This could also relate to the times we live in today as Siamese twins are still a rare sight however we see it as something interesting rather than scary.
I am now going to talk about another art work I have chosen for this essay which is 'Head-spring, a flying pigeon interfering' (1885) by Eadweard Muybridge. The 'Head-spring, a flying pigeon interfering' is a series of photographs showing the movement of a man who is an athlete. As the title says, the man in the photograph is doing a head-spring. Muybridge has captured the movement in twenty four pictures, twelve from the side view and twelve from the front view. In the images we can see the stages a person has to go through to do this particular move. We can see how the person starts running, then, what it looks like, slightly falling over, but what it then appears to be touching the floor with their hands and pushing the ground so much he stands on his hands and head, to then slowly push even harder and having his legs falling in the other direction to finally stand on his feet again. The background is black and makes a great contrast with the person dressed in white. Muybridge and his team have used a massive large format camera and 17x22 inch glass plate negatives.
I think this art work is a good evidence of identity because each of the twelve pictures shows a different side and angle of the young athlete which could represente just as many different characters and personalities and everyone could relate themselves to at leats one of them, whether it is simple like the first picture, where the athlete is only starting to run or the seventh picture where he is standing on his head.
Over all I have found both of these art works really interesting because they both show different sides of people and their identities. When Cahun is trying to show us that people are mysterious and scary freaks, Muybridge sees as many personalities in people as as many moves they do.
1st art work
Cahun - What do you want from me?
2nd art work:
Muybridge - Head-spring, a flying pigeon interfering