Polyptych is a regular series that invites artists to establish new connections and contexts for their work, encouraging a meditation on approach and process
For a long time, as I took my first tentative steps towards practicing photography as art, I felt like a gatecrasher. It is never perfect, my work. It is not sophisticated or trendy. Any success I have comes from working at it, from trial and error, and from my approach evolving over time. It always comes from me – I never make work that is commissioned.
My work is located somewhere between everything – there’s a bit of science, a bit of politics, sometimes it is too private, and often it suggests an idea for a better way to live and work. I don’t think of it necessarily as photography or art, and I love that freedom, but it is also never enough – not enough art, not enough photography. But it is thinking, selecting, seeing: subjective seeing, fragmented seeing, free but focused. My work is a reaction to experiences, to circumstances, to life. I need it. It is thinking with pictures, writing with pictures.
I started making self-portraits because I felt lost. Putting myself in my images protected me, as though they were a shelter. My work is ultimately a response to the pressures of capitalism, which I myself have felt, to those lost to the system, to the need for change and for alternative ways of living and working. It is a personal way for me to resist.
This is Juri, when he came for dinner one day. I was working as an assistant for people with disabilities at the time. Their passion and creativity helped me to get in touch with my vulnerability, to accept my limits and weaknesses; the thousands of little disabilities that no one can see. I was never without my camera then, and I shot everything.
I like to explore my work as part of a wider visual language, as forms that are released from their surroundings, their context erased; images that are reduced to symbols and signs, simple and condensed but strong. Lately someone wrote about my pictures: “With constant attention to her everyday surroundings, she reveals a strange beauty in the banal,” but to me it is not banal; they are lost, hidden, avoided moments that I choose to be meaningful.
Every month I pick a set of photographs for a publication I produce called Curiosity. I find it is a great way to explore new relationships between my photographs, and see how my visual language develops from month to month and as I get older, to witness the affect of my life and relationships in my art. Here, the sun, a bird, a tired woman at the bus stop and the moon become signs for seeing and thinking.
As a child I felt a vivid and vital connection to the world around me, a natural connection that later I lost with the pressure to focus on school and study. I had become a tool of others, rather than working for myself with my own tools. With my photography now it is more important to talk about how my photographs come into existence than the results, the process behind it, how the photographs have come to exist; the work involved in the work.
Photography for me is not painting with light, as many people say, but a process of exaggerating light. I don’t know if there will come a time when I will start to paint with light – it would mean thinking about cameras and films and having a plan, a precise idea of what I am going to do. I decided early on not to work like that. My photography is a reaction against being told what to do – I don’t look for instruction in my process. To me, a planned picture is a dead picture.
Incorporating my everyday experience in my art was not easy. There always seemed to be more urgent topics to focus on than me and my little universe. But I found that I missed these experiences in my work, that I felt suppressed, and so I started to eke out a personal freedom in my images. It is still hard to find that space for personal development and reflection, but by focusing on the normal and unspectacular I can connect both with myself and a sense of myself as an individual.
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