Jayne invested a considerable amount of time and energy into my feedback, for which I am most grateful. There were many points for further development, praise for my strengths, and guidance as to how to improve this assignment and develop it’s presentation. We also discussed which photographers to focus upon and review, and ways in which to develop further as a photographer and artist. Here is the formal feedback provided by Jayne, my notes and reflections are below, and then I conclude with a plan of action based upon the given feedback.
Two aspects particularly please me:- Jayne called me an artist. External validation from Jayne leaves me feeling proud of my photography and art. I am passionate about photography and I have become deeply creative and expressive. The exploration of mixed media photography has changed my perspective of myself as a photographer and artist.
Jayne completely understood my theme, and the motives that I had in producing this work. Jayne:- “This is very potent work, Richard, which I have to say is at first shocking, horrifying and worrying. It’s not just the cuts that shock but the words you literally inflict on yourself here. The initial impression does give way, though, to an understanding that the act of self-harm and self-abuse has been a part of life for you; and the “message” of the work manifests as being about your growth towards self-love/self-respect/self-care.“.
Hell yeah I am proud of this comment. I invested myself heavily into this assignment. I had something to say, a message about my process of change, a presentation of my reality, my self-hatred and the effort that I put into self-love. I am a visual artist, and as an artist I want to provoke a reaction, provide an opportunity for others to pause and reflect, and to feel. This piece of photography has given me the opportunity to do the same. I use photography for my personal development, which is my primary goal, the desire to provoke is secondary, but it is an important aspect of the work which I produce.
Jayne:- “This is brave, authentic and powerful work that expresses so well those difficult (and often buried) struggles with identity through opposing internal and external forces.”
Identity is a theme that I have explored throughout my coursework. Self identity and the identity of others. Being authentic leaves me feeling vulnerable at times, but the support I have received has been such a blessing. Thank you to all of my peers and online community, I feel very grateful for your compassion and sensitivity.
Jayne:- “You raised an important point during our conversation about the inner resistance you noticed and felt through executing the self-harm element in the work – in that sense, it seems as though the work might perhaps have helped you feel, experientially how far you have come in the last two years, in all sorts of ways.”
My photography has changed and developed, and I have developed mentally and emotionally. The resistance that I experienced was in relation to cutting words into my leg was intense. I didn’t want to do it, but it was a critical statement that I needed to express. It was something that I used to do in rage at my own existence, fueled by a deep resentment of being alive. I chose to self-harm for this assignment, to show the hatred that I had towards myself. To fall naturally into self-care after cutting was a surprise. It was completely unforced, and thus enabled me to see the results of my kind and compassionate self-care over the past two years. I have put in an immense amount of effort into these daily practices of compassion and dignity. It hasn’t been easy.
Jayne:- “experimenting with materials, and writing, are going to play a key part”
Experimentation and collaboration have become important aspects for me. Collaborating pushes my boundaries. Working with others and responding to their art forces me into new ways to explore and express. I have some ongoing and upcoming collaborative projects.
Jayne:- “Your written commentary is important here. You write well – perhaps think about ways to weave the text and image together through future work & experiments.” and “The diptych format feels a good way to go in the sense that the self-harm comes before the self-love, in as much as a diptych might be read as a ‘sequence’” and “The over-sewing works well & is really effective… try to capture your thoughts around the ‘mask’ effect and your choice of colours for the thread.” and “We talked about how you might present the work in a way that allows for the white space around the images – which you mentioned arose through accident & feedback – while also making sure the images are large enough to reveal detail, like the reflected image in the droplet on the berries. One way would be to create a gallery mock up, to scale, and play with appearance and effect.” and “We talked about the possibility of somehow moving away from the straight edges and rigid corners of the images and into some form that might translate the sense of arising/emerging and disappearing.”
The initial idea in response to Jayne’s feedback:- Print photos full size, buy three length of fabric that allows space for each diptych, sew the background fabric with the appropriate colours for the self-hatred and self-love, over-sew into the edge of each photo. Each diptych to be displayed onto separate walls. Create a sound recording of prose or verse to accompany each photo, this will give the viewer insight into the emotions, thoughts and language which reflect my internal dialogue. I like Polly Apfelbaum’s use of space and colour as an installation (reviewed here), how can I make use of the floor space to add depth and emotion?
Jayne:- “The self-portrait in particular represents a massive step forward for you.”
I have made tentative plans with an OCA degree student (AK) to be photographed for his assignment and also for my personal development and healing.
Jayne:- “We talked about the staged photographs and your effective use of lighting. Brilliant to hear that you’re learning from another student on this score. I think you’ll enjoy experimenting more with using lighting to create atmospheric effects. Again the work you produced here is brave and affecting.”
I’m incredibly pleased with these comments. Lighting is an alien field to me and one which I have had to overcome resistance in order to begin to use it. I am grateful for the support and generosity of JK. I need not be afraid to ask him more questions and seek his expert guidance.
Jayne:- “The final image on your contact sheet is strangely beautiful, relates to the Letinsky coursework perhaps?”
It’s fair to say that I find Letinskys art very enjoyable and beautiful to look at. I thoroughly enjoyed trying to emulate her work, and there are some similarities with its simplicity, space and planes. Although I did not consciously try to emulate her with this photo, I did want to create something pleasing and simple. The only reason this did not make it into the final six is because it lacks the religious symbolism of the cross in the selected image. The cross represents the shame that I have felt through out my life, the shame of never being good or worthy enough. Why the fuck am I even alive?
During our telephone conversation Jayne reflected upon the positive impact that my work has upon others, that I have a positive effect upon those who view my work. It is important to make use of meditation to find my inner voice. I am aware that meditation is an important aspect of my creative process.
Actions to carry forward
- Update assignment to include the image quality, colours and mask concept re over-sewn photo.
- Gallery layout
- Collaborating with others – OCA collaboration group and TL
- Continue to use thoughts and feelings as drive for my photography
- Consider using prose and verse more frequently to enrich photography
- Build up mixed media skills
- Be photographed by AK – journal my reactions to the shoot and the photos, use the journal to create prose and verse of the experience
- Mexican Votive painting
- Continue emulating Laura Letinsky to develop this technique further
- Read about lighting and ask JK when neccessary
- OCA London regional group
- OCA TV
Reading and viewing
- Diane Arbus: A Chronology – I relate to Arbus’ character and motives of fascination with self and other.
- Stick close to Arbus over the next year, dip into her photography and also those critiques of her, especially Sontag.
- Gregory Crewdson: Beneath the Roses – Look for the message of yearning to be, or for, something other than the mundane/seeking escape. Also view Twilight to explore effective use of lighting and colour temperature.
- Ochi Reyes: Mother and Revelations
- Daniel Regan and his Arts & health Hub and Fragmentary (London calling!!)
- Claude Cahun – use of masks
- Gillian Wearing – use of masks
- William Eggleston
- David Lynch