This anonymous photographer immediately captures our attention with this depiction of a woman, exhausted, collapsing in a puddle. Supporting her body on what seems to be a boulder with water pooling at its lowest point, she might be on a rocky beach at low tide. Having been jostled and pushed about by the water with only her bare skin and sheer will to survive, the woman must have been forced to face the entirety of nature’s wrath. In this moment, we must ask ourselves has she been made stronger, or has her spirit been broken?
The woman is a bright, white body in a dark environment. Normally, the color white serves as a symbol of purity and inspiration. Perhaps, her struggles have humbled her, made her more sympathetic to people in her life who are struggling, thus making her a better person. The woman could be a shining beacon of goodness in a dismal world. It is also possible that she has had her humanness washed away, leaving only this ghost-like being. All of the tiresome endeavors that she has faced might have broken her spirit, transforming her into something non-living and inhuman.
Such a striking contrast between the woman’s body and her surroundings highlights her lack of belonging. Does this artist alienate the woman from her surroundings because the woman is an angel on earth, or because her surroundings are strong, moving components of the physical world and the woman is merely the ghost of a person who used to exist? The artist could be sending the message that suffering is the way to self-improvement. To become this beacon of goodness, the worst parts of us must pass away. The only means to achieve this simultaneous death and rebirth of the self is a life-changing struggle from which you either die or emerge a changed person.
What do you think about this photograph?