Three hundred seventy-one days ago, I featured Smuraga’s work.
The photograph didn’t exactly fit the format of this project. But it felt important to include at the time.
I now feel vindicated in my insistence upon including it–and not merely due to the fact that she seems to have recently earned a LensCulture showcase.
In the intervening year and change, her work has continued to mature. I’d have guessed her trajectory would’ve involved gaining a bit of confidence and then mining her work for a more audacious/confrontational tone but she appears to have leapfrogged that phase and doubled down on a more intricately layered and increasingly contemplative approach to creation.
Yet, for all the additional complexity and nuance, the work is simpler and more welcoming while also simultaneously and seemingly improbable: discomfiting.
I’m hesitant to delve into any sort of at all involved exegesis as the recent work feels like a bit like a clever quip or joke which once explained any trace of wit is leeched out. (& since I’m sitting here accusing myself of copping out as a result of not really having anything to insightful to contribute: wave-particle duality and the almost ironic interpenetration of imperfection with the concept of beauty. All of that fits hand in glove with her overarching examination of femininity and the politics of representation, but there’s also some very meta-commentary on process that is unnervingly precocious.)
The other thing I wanted to point to is to illustrate how fundamentally important attribution/credits are for this kind of work. It’s sort of like John Berger’s famous example from Ways of Seeing about how Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows is one context, whereas labeling it as the last picture Van Gogh painted before committing suicide, is another.
The same absolutely applies here. The credits are integral to this piece for a bazillion reasons but the most salient of those are: authorship matters, if you didn’t make something and you like it there’s a duty to due diligence to try to find out who made it (anything short of that involves a level of flagrant disrespect which is rude at best and more than likely marks the credit stripping poster as a real piece of shite); in this case knowing that the author is female absolutely shifts the context of the image–what (with attribution) reads as meditation on the agency that physical embodiment allows women and how that cuts both ways in the current grossly sexist af culture shifts not only if say a cishet man made the image (regardless of authorial intention, a completely BS parameter for any sort of critical consideration, actually since communication has meaning not because words/actions/ideas point to something internally but because they occur in the stream of life and culture and as such occur in context and derive meaning from their positioning within that context), but if attribution is missing there’s not really enough context for the image to really signify anything beyond what it simply depicts. And not that it isn’t rich however you encounter it, but a lot of the things that are wonderful about it have to do with notions of gender and representation, I mean I’m pretty sure this is a self-portrait, too… Suffice it to say that without attribution, the water becomes very muddy, very quickly.
(Also as an aside: I adore those knickers. Does anyone know where I might be able to acquire ta similar pair? Thanx in advance.)