Monday, December 15, 2008

Utopia: High School Angst

I first took photography as a freshman in high school, just as I was becoming really depressed and beginning to hang out with a group of angsty punk rock kids. Recently I've become incredibly nostalgic for that time in my life, which doesn't make any logical sense since I was depressed, unmotivated, and constantly fighting with my family. My nostalgia really kicked in hard when a friend of mine from high school committed suicide a little over a year ago. Since then, I've found myself reminiscing a lot about high school, and wanting to go back to that time in my life and relive it.

Also, my freshman year of high school—just as I was becoming depressed, angsty, and punk rock—was when I first took a photography class. This semester I've been thinking a lot about the kinds of photos I remember taking back then. With this photo project, I wanted to recreate the angst, loneliness, and punk rock vibe that characterized the photos I took in 9th grade. Though I've been thinking on pursuing this project for a while (and I see these photos as just the beginning – I want to do a lot more), I think this project fits in with the idea of Redefining Eden. There's something about that time in my life that I miss so much, even though it was so awful. In making these photos, I was hoping to access whatever it is that I miss so much about that time.

Persona: Family Portraits

With these “Family Portraits,” I am exploring ideas of authenticity and performativity. The photos feel intentionally staged, as portraits often do. Which of these portraits represents the true, authentic selves of the (self-defined) family being photographed? How do we know? My hope in playing with ideas of hyper-performativity in forms of portraiture is to question the idea of the authentic self, to make the viewer as well as the subjects puzzle over the idea of identity, fabricated and real, possible and impossible, familiar and foreign.

emulation: anne arden mcdonald

When I first saw Anne Arden McDonald’s self-portraits, the word that came to mind was “witchy.” Her self-portraits are taken mostly in abandoned buildings, lending them an eerie air, but also have a sense of ritual: McDonald, as the subject of her photos, sometimes looks like she’s gone mad, but nevertheless has a very deliberate sense of purpose. Her photos contend with the conflict between the limitations of the tangible world and her unlimited, boundless imagination: in her photos, she tries to create her dreams, nightmares, and fantasies. Setting them in abandoned buildings, appearing to be utterly alone, and never showing her face combine to make her photos feel a little bit creepy to me, but in a powerful and intentional way. When I look at McDonald’s photos, I have no idea why she is doing the things she is doing; her photos never tell a complete story. Nevertheless, they feel satisfying to look at: incredible compositionally, and fascinating in terms of subject. Why is this woman doing such crazy things in such creepy places?

In making my photos, I tried to capture this same sense of aloneness, mystery, and ritual. My photos pose questions without giving answers, and I tried to give them a sense of purpose: I am doing the things I am doing for a reason, but the viewer doesn’t know what it is. I chose to take my photos nude because I worried that any clothing I might wear would gender my body in ways that would make my gender the political focus of my photos. Anne Arden McDonald’s photos have a tangible lack of spectatorship, however, so I tried not to use photos that would draw too much attention to the fact of my nudity and therefore sexualize my body.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three Graces

Images pulled from a google image search of "Three Graces"


Leonard Nimoy

Eric Masefield

Brenda Haigh

Artist unknown (from 323-146 B.C.)

Jimmy Leslie

Emil Schildt