I was watching a documentary about Francesca Woodman, a photographer I discovered through a classmate in my photo foundations class last quarter. In 1981, Francesca, dissatisfied with life climbed to the roof of her building and jumped to her death. Very young, extremely talented, and like most extremely talented artists, deeply emotional.

But what saddens me second to her suicide is a comment her father made in the documentary. Already he and his wife had admitted that they probably were selfish people who were not necessarily into parenting as much as into doing what you were supposed to do in the 1950’s: have kids. But once they had them the Woodmans didn’t know what to do with them. Mr. Woodman says that they would give each child a notebook and plunk them on the floor in front of some art piece in a museum with instructions that the child remain there and draw what she sees, thus giving the Woodman parents time to browse the art on their own.

I just find that absurd and shitty, but apparently the Woodmans realized that they were more interested in their own art making instead of their kids, sort of.

It wasn’t until this moment that has upset me that father Woodman confirms my feelings about his parenting. He says that had Francesca not been interested in art, had she been more interested in her peers and the things those kids did, he probably wouldn’t have been quite as interested in her as he was.

Really? Because it seems all around that there was a lack of interest in her.

Nothing hurts more than finding out that your own parent is not quite as interested in you as you wish. Maybe I’m wrong. I’d like to be. But after awhile it gets tiring asking for reciprocation.

I think this has less to do with Francesca than it does me.


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