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This post is a continuation of ‘Project 1 #1 Francesca Woodman’ at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/project-1-1-francesca-woodman/

Exercise: How do these images make you feel?

Elina Brotherus (b. 1972) series ‘Annunciation’ ‘records herself through years of failed IVF treatments’ (The Photographers’ Gallery, 2013). In several of the images she looks dejected: – sitting in the middle of a three-seat chair looking alone and forlorn (see fig. 1.); sitting naked with pregnancy test paraphernalia on the floor in front of her (see fig. 2.); alone at a dining room table, perhaps alone in the house, looking dejectedly at presumably a pregnancy test stick on the table in front of her (see fig. 3.); sitting looking out a window with a test stick and phone on the bench beside her, the implication being she is summoning the will to call someone with the negative result (see fig. 4.). These images convey to me a sense of great sadness and disappointment.

The complete series has wider, deeper meaning:

Full of art historical references, Brotherus’ images stand in sharp contrast to the traditional scenes and symbolism of Annunciation paintings. While the Virgin Mary receives the news that she is to give birth to the son of God, Brotherus pictures herself month after month in-front of a succession of negative pregnancy tests. Feelings of elation and abundance are replaced with those of sorrow and loss. Brotherus’ photographs question the term ‘mother’, suggesting that it can stem from intention rather than being bound to biology or the physical act of having a child (The Photographers’ Gallery, 2013).

By contrast Brotherus’earlier work ‘Model Studies’ (2004) is detached (see fig. 5, 6 and 7) and removes:

the direct connection to her own life. Although she poses for the portrait there is no personal narrative underpinning the image, and she assumes the role of painter’s model or compositional object (Bright, 2010: 54)

Because of this detachment the emotion evoked in me by the ‘Annunciation’ series is absent.

This post conyinues with ‘Project 1 #3 Gillian Wearing’ at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/project-1-3-gillian-wearing/


Bright, Susan (2010) Autofocus. The self-portrait in contemporary photography. London: Thames & Hudson.

The Photographers’ Gallery (2013) Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity. At: http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/photography-motherhood-and-identity (Accessed on: 09.01.15)

List of Illustrations

Figure 1 Brotherus, Elina (2009) Annunciation At: http://assets1.thephotographersgallery.org.uk/images/_7__Press_Images_l_Home_Truths_l_Photography__Motherhood_and_Identity_l_Elina_Brotherus__Annunciation__2009_51e67d8d7f5be.jpg (Accessed on: 09.01.15)

Figure 2 Brotherus, Elina (2010) Annunication 4 At: http://i.guim.co.uk/static/w-620/h–/q-95/sys-images/Observer/Columnist/Columnists/2013/12/20/1387558234592/elina-001.jpg (Accessed on: 09.01.15)

Figure 3 Brotherus, Elina (2010) Annunication 3 At: http://www.mocp.org/exhibitions/2014/04/helsinki_01.jpg (Accessed on: 09.01.15)

Figure 4 Brotherus, Elina (2011) Annunication 8, Avallon 12.04.2011 At: http://www.parisphoto.com/content/artwork_artist_exhibitors/3499/image/detail/541bf83650ed611_annonciation-8-avallon-12.04.2011.jpg (Accessed on: 09.01.15)

Figure 5 Brotherus, Elina (2002) Model Study 1 At: http://www.elinabrotherus.com/assets/photos/lores/model-studies/Model-Study-1.jpg (Accessed on: 09.01.15)

Figure 6 Brotherus, Elina (2004) Model Study 5 At: http://www.elinabrotherus.com/assets/photos/lores/model-studies/Model-Study-5.jpg (Accessed on: 09.01.15)

Figure 7 Brotherus, Elina (2004) Model Study 7 At: http://www.elinabrotherus.com/assets/photos/lores/model-studies/Model-Study-7.jpg (Accessed on: 09.01.15)