I just wanted to let people in on this website: www.dailybooth.com. It encourages its users to post one photo daily, though I must admit, I haven’t been strict with myself in doing this! Most people use Dailybooth as a kind of blogging website, a kind of illustrated diary, posting a photo of themselves or something they did and writing about their day, in fact, I used to do this, and probably still would be if I had a web cam. I have recently re-joined Dailybooth, attempting to post one of my photographs everyday. What I like about Dailybooth is that there is a whole community of ‘creatives’ from all over the world with whom you can share opinions about each others work.
“I’ve been shying away from commenting on this because it is so dense and complex; for want of any education in the visual arts, to me this seems to recall Symbolist poetry. Two armchairs; two people; one absence and one presence, and the tricky part is figuring out which is which.
The figure in the foreground dominates the picture, even though she is not physically there. A window shade has been drawn; the present-day light is thus transformed into a projection of itself, more amenable to the projection in the chair. Her right arm especially is highlighted and strikes the viewer as eerily plastic. We remember that the right arm would be the arm of sword and judgement. Even though she is a very young woman, the title leads me to read the crochet cover suggestively: two circles for breasts, and one indicating the “fruit of the belly.”
By contrast, the figure in the background, though she should be female, is not particularly gendered. She is not even particularly there: she has no arm, she has no body, even a facial expression is denied to her. In fact, if we weren’t predisposed to see faces in everything, she might not even be there at all, might be something else entirely. Why did I even think there is somebody sitting there? The projection is a certainty; the real things in this picture are a matter of belief. This is getting long, but I don’t think any actual interpretation has taken place yet. I believe it is reasonable to read the figures as mother and daughter, but the question which is which is open entirely. The image projects time onto a spatial axis and thus makes it ambiguous. In any case, a power relationship seems to be at the centre of it, between the dominant figure in front and the marginal figure in the background.
As I said, my first impulse was to read the projection in terms of motherhood. The tousled hair of the background figure could represent birth. You could then read the projection as various hegemonies like the mother country or conventional culture, or literally as the mother whose presence, or even memory, absorbs any attempt at individual identity on part of the daughter.
Still, the converse reading is also plausible: The tousled hair could represent labour pains. Then the background figure would be the mother who sacrificed her own life for the projected future of another. The projection would then represent the oblivious pride of the daughter, her fertility suggesting a continuation of the story “in front of the picture,” in the future.
The interpretations cease to be mutually exclusive when you understand the figures not as mother and daughter, but as a mother and a daughter, and ultimately as mother and daughter aspects of the same person. The seemingly marginal background figure could actually be the more powerful one – but I think this comment is long enough. Don’t worry, I won’t write that much all the time. Thanks if you read it, and thanks for posting this exciting picture!”
This is my personal Dailybooth: http://dailybooth.com/hkuchta. I recommend joining to anyone reading this!