Reflection – February 2017

The last few weeks have been rather tough as I have been trying to stay positive about the apparent lack of progress in finding a suitable job. The search is incredibly time-consuming and, although all necessary, it feels like many hours are being wasted every day.  Meanwhile our savings are dwindling and the money will have run out completely by May.

I have sensed that familiar depressing feeling of losing my photography ‘mojo’ but, luckily, committing to taking at least one photograph every day has kept me moving, albeit slowly and often unimpressively.  When I can bring myself to study properly, it is a wonderful escape from the crushing combination of fear and isolation which comes with unemployment.

The Portraits module is surprisingly challenging as I am having to work hard not to rehash my usual, rather haphazard, approaches to shooting people.  I am currently obsessing on a large range of ideas for assignment three and trying not to let the logistics put me off following a specific path. Some of the ideas involve not following the brief very closely which is very appealing but I will (perhaps?) need to be careful not to go too far off piste.

My research has been leading me down the rabbit hole again. Just catching up on some of the posts on the OCA Student Forum set me off. I found myself thinking about Proust and the multiplicity of perspectives. Somehow I got to iridescence and started thinking how I could incorporate that in my portraiture. Confused myself by reading a bit of Gilles Deleuze, pondered Mono no aware for a while, learned about the concept of Weltschmerz, spent some time considering the work of Valérie Belin, wasted some time trying – and failing – to get my head around quantum theory and then got lost in a forum about Vince Gilligan choosing Heisenberg as Walter White’s alias in Breaking Bad because of the Uncertainty Principle.  I really enjoyed some of the thoughts in this essay, particularly the conclusion:  “So art becomes a journey, a shamanic descent into the underworld, where what was past becomes present and the pilgrim, like Orpheus, learns the tongues of animals, trees and stones. Art explores the older and inner levels of reality.”  After all that, I had fun learning why the A-sizes of paper are the sizes that they are.  Fascinating stuff.

Sad to see Ren Hang has died, with rumours that he took his own life and that his depression had been “intensified by global political instability” [via BBC]. He was a huge talent and not afraid to be provocative, sharing his work openly on social media and facing consequences for it in China.  Easy for me to say from a safe environment in London but: artists should always be brave and now more than ever.

I am not really prone to depression but I have felt more down about the state of the world since the Brexit vote and the rise of Twitler and his cohorts than I ever have in my life. I’d like to think I could channel this – as Carrie Fisher urged: “take your broken heart, make it into art” – but these are such extraordinary times, I am still reeling.


My conclusion to today’s reflections, as always: make more work.  Things will get better.



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2 Responses to Reflection – February 2017

  1. Rob Townsend says:

    Yes, they will 🙂


  2. Catherine says:

    I’m rooting for you Helen. x


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