As a photographer, I am most naturally drawn to the photographic works in the Museum’s Collection. I never tire of exploring the three photographs from Joyce Tenneson’s Transformations series which are currently on view in Reverberations: Exploring Movement in the Collection.
From across the gallery, the size and color palette of the photographs first caught my attention. Tenneson shoots primarily with a 20 × 24-inch Polaroid camera, and the contrast of the lovely raw edges of the Polaroid framing the muted colors of the photograph is truly beautiful. This gives the viewer a glimpse into the photographic process, and reminds me of days spent experimenting with film, large format cameras, Polaroid transfers, and other traditional and experimental techniques.
The delicate negative space in this work has a painting-like quality with the soft texture and single vertical line of trim guiding the eye from top to bottom. At the bottom of the frame, a woman rests on the floor. It appears as if this woman could have been performing an ethereal ballet, twirling in the translucent fabric that blankets her. Possibly in a graceful sweep, she fell to the floor.
Her pose looks temporary, as though she is taking a quiet moment to herself as the music plays on. We often associate the fetal position with comfort, safety, and sadness or stress, but her tranquil positioning suggests a lighter moment of pause and contemplation. The curves of the gourd in her hand mirror the curves and shape of her body, while the soft glow of the light highlights the arch of her back. I love that there is nothing particular within this frame that holds my attention, but that my eyes wander in a relaxed fashion along the delicate lines.
This photograph leaves me wondering what the model may be thinking as she rests and what her next move may be after the moment passes. What music do you think is playing in the background? What is her next move?
Three photographs from Tenneson’s Transformations series are currently on display in Reverberations: Exploring Movement in the Collection, located in the Appleby Foundation Exhibition Hall on the first level, through January 4, 2021.
—By Stephanie Wisnet, communications manager