The collaborative practices of Gina Pane and Francoise Masson

Maude-Roxby, Alice ORCID logoORCID: (2019) The collaborative practices of Gina Pane and Francoise Masson. In: Fast Forward: How do Women Work?, 30 Nov - 02 Dec 2019, Tate Modern, London, UK. . [Conference or Workshop Item]

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The presentation considers the impact of commercial photographic conventions being applied to the recording of highly charged live art actions. The focus is on the collaboration of commercial photographer Francoise Masson during her 10 year commitment to recording all of the actions of artist Gina Pane throughout the 1970s. The paper reflects back to the collaborative book On Record: advertising, architecture and the actions of Gina Pane by Francoise Masson and Alice Maude-Roxby (Artwords Press 2004) and considers the legacy of such work in relation to contemporary female photographic practices engaged with recording performance.

Gina Pane (1939–1990) made a series of highly charged actions in which she put her body at risk, within complex and poetic scenarios situated within domestic spaces, apartments, galleries, and public locations throughout the decade of the 1970s. Through this series of actions, each performed just once and usually with an audience present, Pane explored socially and politically engaged subjects using a wide range of gestures from standing high up and unsupported on the window ledge of the third floor of a tenement building, through to the insertion of cuts into her skin in order to trigger a response in the viewer that was received at a number of levels from the visceral through to the cerebral. These complex actions by Gina Pane were tightly orchestrated and variously incorporated within the action: sound, light, moving image, activation of still photographs and objects that were used as props, and mechanisms through which the audience could see themselves present and within the work, such as video recordings being simultaneously broadcast. The actions were documented live by commercial photographer Francoise Masson who produced sequences of very controlled and pre-considered images, generally produced as colour photographic prints, that were subsequently placed together by Pane into composites or grids of images that she named “Constats” or proof. My analysis of these photographs focusses on the implication of a “commercial” photographic language having been applied to such radical work. The photographic documentation of Pane’s practice encompasses the conventions of commercial photography, the physical manifestation of photographing the work with the photographer moving her tungsten lights between the audience and artist implicated on the audience’s viewing experience.

I interviewed the photographer Françoise Masson who had been Pane’s sole photographer throughout the 1970s. During our interview we viewed and discussed Masson’s photographs of Pane in direct comparison to parallel bodies of work, also focussed on the body but for very different purposes, where Masson was shooting jewellery campaigns for commercial campaigns. There is a clear dialogue and two-way influence between these extremely different bodies of work- Masson speaks of the mutual interests of Pane’s utilisation of commercial attributes in the recording of her work, and Masson’s introduction, through Pane, to art practices which arguably influenced her commercial practice. For the time the utilisation of commercial photographic conventions was highly unusual within the recording of live art, today however the boundaries between genres are much more blurred. The paper situates the Pane/Masson collaboration in the context of female contemporary performance to camera or live art photographic practices

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design > Visual Arts > CREATE/Feminisms cluster
Item ID: 28435
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Depositing User: Alice Maude-Roxby
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2019 09:08
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2019 09:16

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