The side-on knees-to-shoulder snapshot, the figure in the background sliced out of the frame, as if the photo’s been shot whimsically from the hip, capturing only a cropped moment in time that can’t speak coherently of that specific moment. Its name, ‘Untitled’, not a conceptual name, but a reflection of the sheer whateverness of the image. A photo that didn’t work out. One whose attempt to speak of a moment has failed.
A short dress reveals taut, youthful skin. An engagement ring draws her age into adulthood; but her blouse, emblazoned with the naïve imagery of rosy-cheeked children, suggests a certain childishness. Without the ring and watch, she might be a pre-teen; without the blouse, she might be in her 30s. Like the mark on her hand – part tattoo, part pen mark, a wholly indecipherable symbol – there is a lack of fixed meaning. And perhaps that is the point. Like the face of the watch that shows no time, the photograph stands as a testament to photography’s inability to truly capture the identity of a person in a specific moment that we so readily impose on photographs.
Or, perhaps, in its croppedness, the photograph lengthens time. We see a blouse that speaks of childish sensibilities, a ring that speaks of adulthood, and are left with the impression of a woman navigating that process between the two. As such, the photograph’s given date of 1970-74 does not speak of an unspecified moment between those years, but stands as the four year period during which the photograph’s proposed transition takes place.
Eggleston, Untitled, 1970-74. Photograph, dye transfer print. Private collection.© Eggleston Artistic Trust.
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