Chick Strand, 1979
Affronted by formal unconventionality, and unable to attach our viewing experience to one stable figure, our solitude as quiet spectators is guided by narration.
Breathe in...Breathe out…
These words sharpen our senses. Organised by feelings rather than objects, light and shadow blur impossibly into half-recognisable shapes and intuitions. We drift to the pulse of their motion; Strand holds us in the palm of her hand.
The title may well refer to the contents of Strand's feature, a series of tightly shot close-ups of interviewed women, divulging fictions and histories. One section sees a woman reading aloud a letter detailing a bizarre sexual encounter, another sees a nude woman frying eggs overlaid with a voiceover that recounts sexual abuse, another interviewee recollects their substance addiction.
Strand’s unidentified authors and assigned speakers segue into each other. Striking a balance between shared and individual identity, they play with their own fluidity. Like water, stories of control and survival trickle through one’s consciousness as a continual flow—they cool and replenish.
The titular softness—softness entailing the sensuality of its images, that which is pitted against the admission of intimate, confidential matters—coheres our empathy with edification. Perhaps we are seldom so ostensibly aligned in-between truth and fiction.
Indeed, precisely owed to their candid vocalisation, the anecdotes, real or false (it doesn’t matter which), confer their own value and artistry. Carefully we pore over these womens’ words, we ascertain their healing faculty.