The Brief –
Create a series of work (aim for 7-10 images) which in some way reflects upon the ideas surrounding identity and place that you’ve looked at so far in this course. Use the written word to play a part in its creation.
You may be inspired by a poem, song or a novel or decide to write your own fictive piece. You may draw upon other people’s words via eavesdropping or another source or use extracts from Journals. You might find interesting textual accounts in archives in libraries that could inform this assignment. Allow your creativity to be spurred on by spending time with these words and reflecting on them.
for this assignment I’m thinking about creating a series of images about identity, the self and other. I have also been researching photographers that explores this topic in their work and I have come across a very interesting artist Daisuke Takakura – Monodramatic. In this series, the artist creates work that explores different versions of oneself. I will be writing a reflection on the artists work (here). The assignment is about text and images so I have decided to research this topic a little bit further I found a very interesting article about how photographers are inspired by poetry.
*My tutor’s comments in my feedback say that it is good that I provided these links to the New York Times but I need to dig a little deeper to describe what I found interesting, and what with this article (here)
Like my tutor’s comments suggested I went back to the article and jotted down my thoughts using a mind map – How poems inspire pictures
What I have learned from the article –
The way one interprets a poem is influenced by our own thoughts and ideas. These thoughts and ideas have to do with our understanding of life, our cultural backgrounds influence these interpretations. ‘The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe.’ (1) Most of these photographers when reading the poems thought about their past life, childhood experiences as well as love and loss.
CREATING THE ASSIGNMENT –
THE SELF AND OTHER RESEARCHING IDENTITY – According to sociological analysis otherness is how our social identities are constructed. Our social identities reflected by our social characters in society these are our cultural identities, gender identities, class identities these identities shape our ideas about who we think we are and who we are. The French Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan writes that according to the mirror phase a child’s identity is instituted through identification with an image that is over there means that identity is based on a misrecognition an alienated image taken as itself. Bates writes human identity (social, sexual, political is always a precarious structure precisely an identification process that is subject to ‘others’ (2)
I have been thinking about my images and what I want to create I am still feeling a bit unsure so I have decided to do some more research into text and images. Before this assignment, I researched the work of Jamie Johnson and I found another series of work really interesting Vices. I find it interesting the way Johnson uses text in her images. The series of images are photographed with a wet plate collodion process this gives this images a sepia tone creating a vintage style which I feel works well with the series as it is a twist of the old-timey school days punishment of writing on the chalkboard, the titles in her images refer to the crimes of the new generations. I particularly like the image of the young boy dressed up as Peter Pan he writes on the board ‘I will not grow up’ this is interesting for me because I feel that children of today don’t have much time just to be a child. The pressure of Society, School and the latest gadgets influences their lives so much that they grow up to fast.
Jamie Johnson’s series Vices can be seen here
THINKING ABOUT MY IMAGES –
I’m looking at identity what is identity? what makes a personal identity and how our identity influences who we are? I want to create a series of self-portrait images that look at my identity and what makes me who I am. I always have believed that a person’s identity is influenced by culture, society as well as the people we associate our self with. I think my assignment is going down a different path, my original plan was to photograph in the natural environment but unfortunately, I have been having a bad few weeks with my hip dysplasia, walking was a very painful and instead I needed to use my home studio. Feeling very frustrated at this point I need to start to rethink my ideas for my work. I started to feel very depressed and my anxiety was getting worse because I am worried about not finishing in time. I’m still thinking about identity but I’m also thinking about my anxiety and depression. Is this part of my identity ? does my hip dysplasia, my anxiety and depression make me who I am ? Is this part of my other self ?
CREATING THE IMAGES –
I have found a very interesting poem, the poem sums up how I am feeling at the moment. I will be using this poem as a means of inspiration to put together my assignment.
The poem was written by Angel Marie Russel, Angel Marie Russell is a mental health advocate, writer, musician and artist who is devoted at sharing her experience with PTSD. The poem is all about embracing our shadows and how sometimes we can hold onto negative emotions but this is not good because if we hold onto these emotions they won’t go away. These emotions according to the writer is born of our experiences and these experiences sometimes internalized within our psyche as self concepts – identity. We can inadvertently own other’s treatment of us, or our treatment of others, as the ‘truth’ of ourselves. These internalized concepts then become stories we keep telling ourselves (3). I decided to write the poem in my own writing this would make it more personal as I think that I am going to try to use it in one of my images.
My hip dysplasia has been playing up making me feel unwell and sad and not very balanced at the moment. I can feel my anxiety and depression and I keep asking myself is this part of my identity ? I see this part of myself as my shadow self. I feel inspired by the poem and its left me thinking about the Ying and Yang the black representing the dark self the white representing the light self. I’m thinking about creating images that show my shadow self the self I don’t like being but I can’t help being.
Experimenting with ideas –
Image 1 –
I want to create a self-portraits that show my shadow self the other self. My first idea was to photograph myself holding a rose. I used a beautiful blossomed rose for one of the images and for the other I photographed my self holding a rose that lost its blossoms. For me this works well because it shows two sides of me the side that I want to be positive and not let my depression/anxiety get the best of me and then the other side where it does just that.
Image 2 –
For this image, I wanted to show myself hiding away from my shadow self I decided to create shadow hands reaching toward my body which is in a crunch down position. I feel that the open space works well with the image because it creates that lost feeling.
I have been inspired by the haunting photographs of Edward Honaker. The work he creates show his struggles with depression I was really like the way he hides his face in his images and I want to try to create something similar but with my own twist.
Edward Honaker’s series of images can be found here
When starting to work on image 4 I was still not sure how to approach this image I started photographing myself with my back to the camera and then decided to photograph myself with my hair in front of my face I still feel inspired by the above artist as I feel that when one hides ones face it gives the image a feeling of not belonging.
I have been looking at the work of Melissa Zexter embroidered photography here. Melissa Zexter is a textile artist who hand stitches over her photographs her photographs often deals with representations of femininity. I was feeling inspired by the idea and thought that I would experiment with the same idea but I would use Photoshop to create my stitching.
To be honest image 6 I was struggling with I was not sure what to do, I decided to read the poem over and then I came up with the idea of creating an image with a sign saying it’s ok not to be ok. The reason I thought this was because sometimes I don’t like to admit when I am not well. I would rather smile and just keep it inside.
As mentioned in my planning above I really wanted to include the poem in one of the images I decided to do this with my last image.
Assignment planning –
References List –
(1) J, Berger. (1972) Ways of seeing, Penguin books (e-book), (p. 25)
(2) D, Bates. (2016) The Key concepts photogrpahy, bloomsbury, (p. 103)
(3) A poem for embracing our shadows, Angel Maria Russel [available at:] https://www.elephantjournal.-com/2016/10/a-poem-for-embracing-our-shadows/%5Baccessed /06/2018%5D
J, Berger. (1972) Ways of seeing, Penguin books (e-book), (p. 25)
D, Bates. (2016) The Key concepts photogrpahy, bloomsbury, (p. 103)
Melissa Zexter interview: Embroidered photography https://www.textileartist.org/melissa-zexter-interview-embroidered-photography/[Accessed 18/06/2018]
America Today, in vision and verse https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/07/14/us/american-poetry-photos.html[Accessed 18/06/2018]
Photographer suffering from depression captures his mental illness in haunting series of self portraits to raise awareness for the disorder http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3240571/Photographer-suffering-depression-captures-mental-illness-haunting-series-self-portraits-raise-awareness-disorder.html [Accessed 18/06/2018]
A poem for embracing our shadows https://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/10/a-poem-for-embracing-our-shadows/ [Accessed 16/06/2018]
Interview: Photographer explores own depression with surreal portraits https://mymodernmet.com/janelia-mould-conceptual-photography-depression/[Accessed 16/06/2018]
Monodramatic by Daisuke Takakura https://www.lensculture.com/articles/daisuke-takakura-monodramatic#slide-17 [Accessed 15/06/18]
Vices – Jamie Johnson photography http://www.jamiejohnsonphotography.com/Gallery%20Vices.html [Accessed 20/06/18]