The Four Janets: Finding Truth in Illusion
At first sight, the picture we are looking at could be just a simple family photograph: an elderly woman watching with pride over her daughters, nieces or granddaughters. Yet one quickly realises that all three girls sport the exact same wigs and that far from being sisters or cousins, they are actually three representations of the same person at different ages of her life.
Indeed this picture was taken on the set of Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table, the film adaptation of Janet Frame’s autobiography. The elderly lady receding in the background is not an aunt or a grandmother but the author of the books and the main character in the film. Many such mistakes can be made when looking at this photograph for the first time. I will try to explore those misreadings in order to see what this picture tells us of Janet Frame’s autobiographical practice.
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