Figure 1. Elina Brothrus taken from annunciation (2009-2013)
Elina Brotherus is a contemporary artist who regards herself as a model and tool for her photography and from which she has investigated her own autobiography but she also has explored wider questions about the human form and it’s interactions with the landscape. Whilst not always including herself in the frame you can sense her presence throughout her work.
We were referred to her series Annunciation, an autobiographical account her unsuccessful IVF treatment where Brotherus takes on her own experiences to give a voice and visibility to the many people which suffer from what she refers to as the taboo subject of involuntary childlessness.
These are poignant images stretching over a five-year period where Elina Brotherus appears throughout with the passing of time noted by changes in her hairstyle and colour and internal decorations of her house. There is little relief through the series and as with all excellent work the impact on the viewer grows deeper over time. I found certain similarities in how she told her own story with Bryony Campbell’s The Dad project (2009) a series of work I researched earlier in the course (see here).
As I found a particular interest in Elina Brotherus I also looked at her work that ran parallel to Annunciation which was Carpe Fucking Diem, (2011-2015) where in one frame Brotherus focuses on a plate of oysters which is often used as a symbol of an aphrodisiac which carries a sense of poignancy in a series dedicated to Brotherus’s search for a new direction and a sense of a future in a life without children.
I particularly liked the work Les Femmes de la Maison Carre (2015) where again Brotherus combines and perfectly blends her literal presence within the frame with her emotional presence felt even when she leaves herself out of the composition.
The images from this series are described by Brotherus as, “at once composed and natural. They are direct yet mysterious. They live in this moment and in the past. They effortlessly make use of the house and it’s surroundings.” The viewer is invited and forced to create their own interpretation and back story for the narrative which Brotherus creates which I found both interesting and creative.
In one article Brotherus describes how she is, “believing in the ‘profound sameness’ of human beings” (Yeh, 2002) which was an idea I had an immediate empathy with and this prompted a further viewing of her work which seemed to provide a deeper affinity to her work for myself. I also really liked how she was able to combine variety in her work with an uncompromising coherence.
Whilst researching Elina Brotherus I came across a short video that she had made as a homage to Francesca Woodman although she does not regard her as a major influence. (Brotherus, 2011)
I very much liked her work and felt that it provided some answers to the questions posed by my review of Francesca Woodman but also gave a more contemporary and accessible perspective on self-portraiture and it’s different functions.
Elina Brotherus website AT: https://elina-brotherus.squarespace.com/photography/#/les-femmes-de-la-maison-carre/
(accessed 30 June 2016)
Elina Brotherus profile AT: http://www.culturebase.net/artist.php?735
(accessed 30 June 2016)
Pulver, A (2011) ‘Photographer Elina Brotherus’s best shot’ The Guardian (online)AT: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/feb/09/photography-elina-brotherus-best-shot (accessed 29 June 2016)
Strecker, A (s.d) Lens Culture.com 12 Ans Apres: Portraits over time AT:
https://www.lensculture.com/articles/elina-brotherus-12-ans-apres-portraits-over-time#slide-1 (accessed 29 June 2016)
http://londoncalling.com/images/uploads/feature_images/5974/picture_27__gallery_image.png (accessed 3 July 2016)