Review by Gerhard Clausing •
Fran Forman is a visual magician, a multi-talented storyteller with many mysterious tales, who shares with us a lifetime of experiences that she has deeply felt. She makes those experiences and feelings manifest and externalizes them through miraculous photographic compositions which engage our hearts and minds. This thoughtfully crated art results in delightful and challenging assignments for us viewers to apply them to our own circumstances.
Let’s see how she does it. A huge collection of her photographs is harvested for elements that she sees fit to combine in conceptualized scenes, making photographic compositions. Some have called this approach photographic painting; I think of it more in terms of composing visuals, akin to composing music. The title of the book has a musical overtone, as we are encouraged to pause for a self-determined time and react, if we care to. “Between each beat of the heart there is a state of rest.” Thus, the combinations of photographic elements serve as situational prompts or invitations to apply our own understanding and feelings to what we are shown, since, as Sandra Klein says on one of the pages, these images can be compared to Tarot cards, “which can be read in many ways, depending on the mindset of the viewer.”
My reaction to these exquisitely produced photographic compositions is that I am confronting those intrepid realms between reality and the imagination, between being awake and dreaming, and am facing my internal processes exemplified through externalized depictions. Take some of the examples shown below: Individuals seem to be waiting or searching for something. Gateways, doors, windows that are open, but somewhat distant, are in view. Hidden figures or individuals dashing away might be seen as enacting avoidance, or pointing to the fleeting nature of our existence. Is that giraffe really dreaming about freedom from restraints, or is that a projection on our part, and do we ourselves feel constraints and restraints, social and otherwise? And is that “Lion in the Palace” image (the last one below) a metaphor reminding us of similar human “kings of all beasts” who exhibit dangerous overreach in their insatiable hunger for power and riches? In all that tentativeness, can we detect a longing for finding positive information, like the little girl that might open that austere wooden filing cabinet which might hold information about her heritage and also be the key to finding opportunities for the future?
“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even the past.”
Paula Tognarelli provides an astute and warm introduction to this project, which is presented in five parts. The sections are all labeled and conceptualized as BETWEENs: Light and Shadow, Together and Apart, History and Presence, Missing and Meeting, Reality and Illusion. The images are accompanied by various texts, descriptive or literary, and other relevant quotes. At the end, Fran Forman gives us insights into her progress and methodology, which in itself makes fascinating reading. Other explanatory segments are also provided. This photobook is printed sumptuously on large-format pages, with an excellent design.
I highly recommend that you immerse yourself in these moments of fantasy to find some meanings for the present, and most especially, for the future. Isn’t reality full of somewhat surreal moments? There is much to discover here; let it touch you. “Somewhere between arrival and departure, there is a moment of bliss.”
Gerhard (Gerry) Clausing, Associate Editor of the PhotoBook Journal, is an author and photographer from Southern California
Fran Forman – The Rest Between Two Notes
Visual Artist/Photographer: Fran Forman (born in Baltimore, Maryland; lives in New England)
Publisher: Unicorn (Unicorn Publishing Group), London, Great Britain; © 2019, published 2020
Texts: Paula Tognarelli (introduction); David Gulette; Todd Bartel with Eli Keehn; Fran Forman (afterword); and many others
Hardcover, with an illustrated dust cover; 214 pages, paginated; 11.25 x 11.25 inches (28.5 x 28.5 cm); printed in China by Artron Art Printing (HK) Ltd; ISBN 978-1-912690-38-1
Design: Connie Hwang Design
Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s). All images, texts, and designs are under copyright by the authors and publishers.