Teachers Lesson Plans
In Bing's Self-portrait, we see her with her camera facing one mirror, which reflects into another behind her, where her hand holds the shutter-release cable. In this complex yet self-confident image, Bing indicates a knowledge of Cubist time and space. The subject is rendered simultaneously from many angles, as witnessed by her portrait in profile and three-quarter view. The composition intrigues us most with its repeated circular shapes - camera lens, Bing's eye, and her sleeve button - and with the play of rectangles seen in the mirror, curtain, camera, matchbox, piece of cardboard, and the photograph itself.
Lange's photograph on the other hand is shockingly different from the usual portrayal of a woman's role as caregiver and nurturing mother (especially when it is compared to the Madonna and Child in Christian art). The mother is haggard and in rags; evidently she is barely able to fulfill her maternal role. Her unbuttoned blouse suggests that she has just finished feeding her filthy baby, asleep on her lap. The gesture of the mother's arm and hand form an inverted question mark, underlining the look of uncertainty and worry etched on her face. The two children turn away from the world, echoing their mother's fear and lack of confidence.