Jane Burton – Limbo #8 from Other Stories series (2008)
One-offs always a risk. By doing something that defiantly refuses to sit at the table quietly with the other children, there is always a very real danger of exposing things the artist would rather remain hidden.
In some ways this work is better than Burton’s other work. Well, maybe not better–more ambitious. The rest of her is so flat. It functions with something like the unexpected flatness in layer that is always the unexpected result of layering multiple negs to make prints in a traditional darkroom–you expect the way the sandwich looks to your eye to transfer to a dimensionality in the print and it never does.
Here: the vague reflection of the trees in the cracked glass speaks to that scrim like compression of dimensionality. Most of Burton’s work functions with the implication of one-point perspective. Whereas this is decidedly two-point. The purposeful center-weighted symmetricality of the rest of the work is thrown heavily off balance. The framing doesn’t make sense–it certainly doesn’t fit an sort of rule of third compliant framework.
In fact the composition is solely about the reflection and the cracked glass. The positioning of the character in the frame is intended to associate the violence of the broken glass with the female genitalia. Note: that the echoing cracked glass is higher and there is no one similarly positioned behind it. There is the ghost of a collapsed heteronormative relationship haunting this image.
And for how easy that all is to ready, it’s troubling that the frame wasn’t cropped. For the closer the frame gets to a 2.1:1 aspect ratio, the more appealing something more along the lines of a rule of fifths becomes aesthetically appealing. Although it’s not exactly, applying a rule fifths does actually contribute a degree of previously missing legibility to the composition.