Ma Photography: final thoughts

FINAL PROJECT – STREAM OF CONSCIUSNESS

Advertisements

This two-year MA Photography at Falmouth university has been an intense experience made of ups and downs, moments of deep discomfort and small satisfactions. Right now I am about to submit my last assignment and I realized that, if the response to my work will be positive, this adventure came to an end.

It has been very difficult to me to create documents like the Final Major Project and the Critical Review of Practice: I am not a self-confident person and I always question myself even if I always do my best to meet the requirements and to meet Falmouth’s standards and assignments’ Learning Outcomes.

This was my first experience in the UK Academic environment and, looking back at my first articles on my Critical Research Journal, I had the chance to notice how much I learnt and my improvements, but self-doubt is a habit difficult to “dismantle”.

I had the chance to meet amazing artists, Professors and Tutors, and it is quite clear to me that I will take something of them with me in everything I will create in the future since they “moulded” the way I now express my vision and transformed the way in which I read, interpret and use photography, also allowing me to understand how fascinated I am by the moving image and giving me a new direction to follow.

I don’t know if, and how much, my work will be appreciated during the assessment, but I have the awareness that I created something important to me, to my sitters and potentially to my audience.

Guest Lecturer: From Ken sexuality to Wait-watchers, a comparison between Sarah Davidmann and Haley Morris-Caufiero’s projects

FINAL MODULE – GUEST LECTURER

In Sarah Davidmann’s lecture for the Final Project Module of the MA Photography at Falmouth Flexible, and in Haley Morris-Cafiero presentation taking place a few weeks ago, we had the chance to analyse two projects in which identity and the external perception generated by social norms are important elements.

While Davidmann, with her “Ken to be destroyed”, focuses her attention on the secret life of her uncle Ken as a transgender person, Molloy’s practice is more cantered in how people perceive her figure. The two approaches and the techniques employed are absolutely different, but both expose how Society moulds the way in which individuals are judged (or misjudged) because of their identity or appearance.

Discussing “Ken to be destroyed”, the author explained “The project came about because my brother, sister and I, inherited a family archive of letters, photographs and papers from our mother, Audrey. This archive tells the story of Ken and Hazel, my uncle and aunt and how, early on in their marriage, it came to light that Ken was transgender” (Davidmann, 2018).

We must take in account how transgender people were considered during the 1950s and 1960s: they were socially perceived as individuals presenting a deviate mind and treated as mental health patients in psychiatric hospitals. In history, realities like sexualities differing to what was considered “socially acceptable” were illegal and, likewise “women’s issues”, listed among mental health problems at the time, could cause an institutionalization into an asylum. This a perception that Modern Society now consider unacceptable, and yet forms of intolerance can be still traced.

The artist physically manipulated the photographs taken by uncle Ken, possibly depicting her wife, aware of his sexuality, as he wanted to openly appear, almost mirroring himself into her portraits. What Davidman did was to posthumous allow him to publicly live his sexuality confined, during his whole life, into the domestic environment.

On the other hand, Haley Morris-Cafiero in her practice externalized her condition of being “the other”, being different compared to those social norms that define standards of beauty, often affecting those individuals who cannot meet them. In her “Anonymity isn’t for everyone”, also known as “Wait-watchers”, the artist set up the camera un public spaces, starting from Time Square in New York, with a specific aim: in her words to “capture the gazes of the strangers who walk by me while I am doing every day, mundane acts. I then look at the images to see if anyone who passed by me had a critical or questioning look on their face or in their body language. I present the images to the world to start a conversation. While I do not know what the passersby is thinking, I attempt to reverse the gaze back onto the stranger.” (Morris-Cafiero, 2010).

After her photos went viral on social and mass media, she found out that many comments written by the audience, mostly anonymously, were focused in criticising her body, figure, appearance and, in some cases, she also received unsolicited e-mails explaining her that her life could have been improved if only she could make the effort to lose weight. This situation, in my opinion, perfectly explains how, nowadays, we are still affected by social standards and, while now we cannot be institutionalised because of our sexuality, we can still be isolated or derided by others, due to that lack of empathy and awareness I often discussed talking about my practice.

The photographer, anyway, decided to maintain a positive attitude and create a body of work exposing the comments she received, because while she positively responded to this situation, other individuals could react in a negative way, facing depression and, in worst cases, attempting suicide like the news released by mass-media highlight almost every day.

Both artists made a great work in transforming a reality considered “socially inacceptable” into projects aiming to give a fresh perspective on situations affecting many individuals in the world every day and I wish that my practice might receive the same positive response in the future, being prepared to face criticism, too.

 

References:

Davidmann Sarah, Guest Lecture (Publication) released by Sarah Davidman for the Final Major Project Module of the MA Photography at Falmouth Flexible, 2018, available on Canvas online platform for MA Photography students at Falmouth University only. London/Falmouth.

Davidmann Sarah, Ken to be destroyed, on Sarah Davidmann’s official website https://www.saradavidmann.com/kentobedestroyed/

Morris-Cafiero Haley, presentation of the project “Weight-watchers”  released by Haley Morris-Cafiero for the Final Major Project Module of the MA Photography at Falmouth Flexible, 2018, available on Canvas online platform for MA Photography students at Falmouth University only. Memphis/Falmouth.

Morris-Cafiero Haley, The Watchers, 2015, The Magenta Foundation, Toronto, Canada.

Domestic Slavery: a project influencing an art installation

FINAL PROJECT – CREATIVE REFERENCES

Quoting the introduction to the project on Domestic Slavery’s website “In Domestic Slavery Raphael Dallaporta and Ondine Millot address an often-ignored social wrong that is related to issues of human trafficking: modern slavery. Dallaporta’s cold and stark images of ordinary-looking buildings in and around Paris, shot simply and in the same light, are combined with Ondine Millot’s texts to become chilling portraits of hidden agony. The texts describe what went on in these photographed buildings, confronting the viewer with stories of abuse and cruelty, forcing us to consider the idea that behind the façade of the ordinary can lie a discomforting reality. Dallaporta’s presentation of the unbearable idea of a person reduced to an object is heightened by the way his photographs keep their distance and his refusal to fall into the sensational. It is an approach that allows Domestic Slavery to bear witness to the banality of everyday inhumanity. Names have been changed to protect the anonymity of those featured in the text.” (Dallaporta, 2010).

His project is unique, depicting, in a very peculiar way, stories of abuse and pain. The photographer did not directly portray the victims of those crimes, but the buildings in which they took place. Providing viewers with an external point of view on the subject matter of his work, generating a strong contrast between the normality of a Paris that everyone could observe “from the outside” and an hidden reality that remained hidden, until he exposed it, that could only be seen “from the inside”. The project evolvers around the juxtaposition of a general perception Vs the reality, proving that in many cases they do not match.

Screenshot_2018-08-24 Domestic Slavery pdf

Raphael Dallaporta, Domestic Slavery, slide 1 of 12 presenting an overview on the publication. Available on Raphael Dallaporta’s official website. ©Raphael Dallaporta, 2009.

His perspective on the topic he analysed and represented inspired me during the set up of my solo exhibition at FuoriLuogo Art and Culture Residence in Asti, Italy. Being the structure, as it can be observed from previously published articles, provided with huge glass walls, I had the chance to show the images related to my series “Twelve Episodes” both from the outside and from the inside, defying the audience in finding the differences in their perception of those portraits observed from an external viewpoint, that did not give any information about their purposes, and to confront their impression in relation with the same photographs after they confronted themselves with the provided data about the context in which they have been created. I asked them “Do you see these images in the same way, now?”. I wanted my viewers to understand that, behind an external quiet façade often we can find hidden realities that might involve stories of pain, solitude and abuse, like in Dallaporta’s project. Discussing with some participants to the event, they confirmed that as soon as they acquired information related to the story behind those small images often portraying me crying in pain, their impact on them dramatically increased because while before they were simply sympathising with the depicted situation, from an “inner” perspective they had the chance to fully understand why I was in pain and how I cannot avoid this condition due to my health issues and Anxiety disorder.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dayana Marconi, I can hear you now, solo exhibition at FuoriLuogo Art and Culture Residence, June 2018, Asti, Italy. Images of the photographs seen from the outside and from the inside. Slideshow. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.

The artist did not portray those buildings by exalting their architecture or location because he wanted to represent an idea of “normality” Vs the actual they were hidden: his perspective is antipodal in compared to David Moore’s “Pictures of the Real World 1987-1988” or Jim Mortram’s “Small Town inertia”, because these last two photographers “entered” those worlds made of poverty and they depicted the often sad stories of their sitters by directly photographing them. My project, then, is even more distant since I don’t only portray the suffering of the individuals involved in its creation, but also my personal story, turning my gaze on my own persona.

Dallaporta, on his website, provided the audience with an extract of his publication in different languages: twelve pages, like my mentioned portraits, that gave a clear idea of the structure of his work. Since before applying for this two-year MA Photography my alternative was an MA Criminology, I am particularly interested in these kinds of projects, possibly because of my personal history that, sometimes, asks me to find a way to be externalised while remaining hidden at some levels for potential the risk of being misjudged.

Somehow, it remembered me the publication written by political theorist Hannah Arendt introducing the concept of “The banality of evil”, in her book she focuses her attention on the trial connected to Eichmann’s deportment. The expectation was to observe a man blatantly evil, but in reality he was not different to any other individual at first sight. His defamation resided in his actions, not in his appearance that resulted quite ordinary. He was a man “doing his job” as most of the Nazis SS soldiers under trial declared but, in reality, he was a sort of “special expert”, in charge of arranging for all deportations into occupied Poland.

Similarly, even if from a different perspective and in a different historical and social context, in many cases we read about stories of “modern deportation” into Millot’s texts related to Dallaporta’s photographs, understanding that the evil is integral part of the human nature at some level and that history tends to repeat itself behind its banal appearance.

 

References:

Arendt Hannah, Eichmann in Jerusalem. A report on the banality of evil, 1963, Viking Press, New York, USA.

Dallaporta Raphael, official website http://www.raphaeldallaporta.com/

Dallaporta Raphael, Domestic slavery, 2009, Paris, Pdf extract of his publication available at the following link http://www.domesticslavery.com/Domestic%20Slavery.pdf

Dallaporta Raphael, Domestic slavery, 2010, containing texts by Ondine Millot, 2009, Fotodok, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence, I Can Hear You Now – Dayana Marconi, presentation included into Events’ calendar of the Residence, June 2018 issue http://www.fuoriluogoasti.com/eventi/?action=evrplusegister&event_id=193

Marconi Dayana, Twelve episodes, images available on “I can hear you now” project official website at the following link http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/project/step-07-twelve-episodes/

Moore David, Pictured from the real world 1987-1988, with an essay by David Chandler, 2013, Dewi Lewis Publishing and Here Press, Stockport, UK.

Mortram Jim A., Small Town Inertia, 2017, with essays written by Lewis Bush, Paul Mason and Jamie Thrasivoulou, Bluecoat Press, Liverpool, UK.

I can hear you now: Phototherapy and Therapeutic photography

FINAL MODULE – PHOTOGRAPHIC THERAPIES

According to Judy Weiser, Founder and Director of the Phototherapy Centre in Vancouver, Canada, Psychologist, Art Therapist, consultant, trainer, University Adjunct Faculty, international lecturer, and author, considered the world authority on the techniques of Phototherapy, Therapeutic Photography, Photo-Art-Therapy, VideoTherapy and other related techniques, “Therapeutic Photography techniques are photographic practices done by people themselves (or their helpers) in situations where the skills of a trained therapist or counselor are not needed — for example, where photo-interactive activities are used to increase people’s own self-knowledge, awareness, and well-being, improve their relationships with family and others, activate positive social change, reduce social exclusion, assist rehabilitation, strengthen communities, deepen intercultural relations, lessen conflict, bring attention to issues of social injustice, sharpen visual literacy skills, enhance education, expand qualitative research and prevention methodologies, and produce other kinds of photo-based personal/emotional healing and learning.” (Weiser, 2018).

Her vision is absolutely important for my practice, focused, as stated several times, in psychologically and emotionally supporting myself, my sitters and viewers through images’ production. I wanted my camera to become a tool to engage a constructive conversation related to mental health. In most cases, people focus their attention on the word “mental” being unable to observe that in strictly correlated to the word “health”: this leads them to interpret mental health not as something to preserve and involving us all on a daily basis, not as something connected to wellbeing, but a topic related to psychological disorders only. Phototherapy can be considered, then, a powerful instrument to change this vision by actively engaging the audience, as well as those patients involved in its processes, by asking them to actively participate and use their creativity to express themselves and engage a “healing process” that could be correlated to a wide range of situations: from the effects of a past trauma to the process of physically healing from a medical condition. In my case it worked: thanks to photography, I had the chance to understand and depict those traumas I have never had the chance to fully comprehend or to deal with during traditional therapy.

Weiser continues, “Not limited to printed photographs, both PhotoTherapy and Therapeutic Photography techniques can be used with any kind of photographic imagery, both film and digital, both still and moving, therefore also in applications such as VideoTherapy, Therapeutic Videography (Therapeutic Film-making) and other related techniques.” (Weiser, 2018). This concept can be easily connected to my work involving the moving image and to the creation of my short documentary aiming to express my inner malaise, my personal story and the idea of a shared condition that can be faced in a simpler way thanks to a higher level of self-awareness.

As the writer and photographer Michael Gabriel explained in his “Can photography be used  as a form of therapy?”, “Photography is not only a form of art; it is also a means of expression and a way of communicating thoughts and feelings. A single photograph can tell a hundred different stories.” (Gabriel 2018), what the author means, in my opinion, is that a photograph generally does not represent only the subject itself, but also different layers of meaning recognisable through the photographer’s vision and that can be interpreted accordingly to the personal experience of the audience who can react to an image in many ways, providing different emotional interpretations that the author, possibly, did not even forecasted.

While “Therapeutic photography” is often a self-conducted activity without the support of a therapist, with the goal to produce positive change in individuals, a concept deeply connected to my practice until I involved the Neuropsychologist and Psychologist Martina Gerbi into my work as a sort of “professional counsellor”; “Phototherapy” is more connected to therapy practices using the photographic image to relive traumatic experiences in order to overcome and deal with a specific situation.

Many Associations, nowadays, are deeply involved in creating activities in which art can be used as a tool to improve the quality of lives of individuals. In Italy we have “Art Therapy Italiana”, a non-profit organisation using different forms of art, from painting to performing arts, in which I might have the chance to create a program related to photography thanks to the interest of Dr. Roberto Boccalon, Member of the scientific Committee of the Association, who is deeply interested in my project “I can hear you now”. In the UK we can find “PhotoVoice”, an Association aiming to “promote the ethical use of photography for positive social change, through delivering innovative participatory photography projects.” (PhotoVoice, 2018). Since they work in collaboration with communities, individuals worldwide and Organisations to create new instruments of self-advocacy and ethical communication, I am now interested in submitting my project to their attention in order to receive a feedback and, possibly, to discuss a future potential collaboration.

Another interesting project is the one lead by “Phototherapy Europe in prisons”. In their official statement, we can read “This is particularly relevant to current EU policy both with regard to decreasing reoffending rates (e.g. in the UK, Green Paper, 2010) and initiatives to make prisons safer by decreasing violence and suicide across the partner countries (e.g. Safer Custody, 2002) in the EU.  Despite addressing the need for emotional learning opportunities, to date, little to no provision has been developed in the EU.” (Phototherapy Europe in prisons, 2018). This would not only be a very interesting case-study, but also a chance to learn how to evolve my work in an environment requiring a great dose of empathy and sensitivity.

I am currently looking for new opportunities to create new projects related to mental health, by applying for a couple of interesting PhD programs with a great potential, while contacting Associations connected to Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography in order to find new ways to employ the experience acquired in this two-year MA Photography at Falmouth University.

 

References:

Art Therapy Italiana, official website https://www.arttherapyit.org/

Gabrial Michael, Can photography be used  as a form of therapy?, 2018, article available on Contrastly website https://contrastly.com/can-photography-be-used-as-a-form-of-therapy/

Gerbi Martina Dr., official website and blog https://martinagerbipsicologa.com/

Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now, official website http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/

PhotoVoice, official website https://photovoice.org/

Phototherapy Europe in prisons, official website http://www.phototherapyeuropeinprisons.eu/

Weiser Judy Dr., PhotoTherapy, Therapeutic Photography, & Related Techniques. About the ‘why’ of your photographs – and the feelings and stories they create…, on the home page of the Phototherapy Centre official website https://phototherapy-centre.com/

Guest Lecturer: Guy Martin

FINAL PROJECT – GUEST LECTURERS

What particularly impressed me by the beginning of Guy Martin’s lecture at Falmouth was the vivid impression he had, at some point of his life, that photography was using him rather than the contrary: something went wrong in the process. This detail captured my attention because I applied for this MA at Falmouth for the same reason: I was blocked. I could not create anything but those works allowing me to pay bills, like weddings or commissioned portraits that, in most cases, to me had no sense at all. That was not the reason why I wanted to be a photographer: my intention was to express and liberate myself from an intolerable burden, to portray the world, to create something that matters. That was not happening.

Interestingly, these words captured my attention more than the brief narration of the attack that killed two of his colleagues and not because that was not a horrible fact or because I am anesthetised by images of war: I will never get used to it. I guess I was listening to his words and, automatically, deeper capturing the sense of those ones I could experiment myself, using my background. I have been a victim of a car crash that left me completely paralysed in the past: I had to learn to walk, to eat by myself and to hold the reins of my life again, but I think that my situation is nothing if compared to the impact that what happened to Guy Martin can have on an individual at a psychological and emotional level.

I achieved a BA in Intercultural science with a focus on mass media, in my twenties I wanted to be a journalist in those areas afflicted by war and, due to the historical period, this is why I opted to focus on Arabic and Spanish Language: then, of course, life happens and in most cases you have to put your dreams into a drawer and to leave them there. With the same attitude, I applied at Falmouth to become a better photographer and this is why it has been strange to me to listen to those words said by an affirmed photojournalist.

I found interesting the part of his speech in which he explained his fascination to Turkish soap operas and their representation of the Country. As a matter of fact, Martin said “I love the way that they represented women; I love the way that they were just amazing locations that we went to and visited. It was like seeing a country, that even if I tried going to these places or going to these locations, I would never see these little sets, these on-location houses and places. It was amazing to work like this for a year” (Martin, 2018).

Being interested in photography for Cinema and in cinematography, due to the nature of my practice and its development in time, his perspective was absolutely precious to start understanding how a photographer must approach the work on a set. He provided interesting references that I will surely further analyse in the future, like Larry Sultan’s “The Valley” and his vision, his idea that he was creating and documenting social aspects almost representing “a grey area” of the filming process: when actors are not acting, a sort of “suspended situation” in my opinion, but still sociologically important. I had the  impression that he was representing the actual behind the fiction, basically proceeding following his instinct.

Being well-aware of the social situation in the Country, representation became a very important aspect in his work. I think a photographer often has to pay attention, while creating a documentary work, not to insert elements from his own perspective with the risk of misrepresent the reality: but in the end he was representing the fiction that, in turn, was representing the reality. The fact is that the actual represented by a soap opera, is commonly very fictionalised and dramatised, so I found astonishing his level of awareness demonstrated by his decision to adjust his perspective and to take action to better represent a place or a situation avoiding any form of cliché, an effort I must constantly make in my current practice. He compared the commissioned work to this project and I can appreciate his frustration in the first case, since it was the one I was living before deciding to achieve a higher level of education in order to improve as image-maker and image-reader, a path that took me to the project I am managing today with doubts but also with great satisfaction. He was conscious that even if the situation was potentially dangerous, it did not match with the reality documented for the western countries.

Interesting what Guy Martin said at some point “But I did the photographing; the people photographing their own potential revolution. Why was I there? What was I doing? What was I adding to it? Everyone seemed to be doing a pretty good job of it before I was there, Tweeting it, Instagramming it, getting it out there. Turks were doing a really good job of photographing and documenting this potential revolution, for themselves.” (Martin, 2018). As photographer, we often make ourselves these kind of questions and, surprisingly, also the most experienced ones of us.

Martin discusses far more than this brief section of his work I analysed in this article, providing a wide perspective of his work as photographer and kindly sharing also personal details, ideas and perceptions; but realising that, somehow, we share a situation of confusion as practitioners, did comfort me. I am always very attentive in avoiding disrespecting my sitters, the way I represent them and the subject matter or my work, so knowing that also a very skilled photographer shares my same doubts and “fears” regarding this topic, makes me think that, maybe, a continuous self-questioning it is simply the right thing to do.

 

References:

Martin Guy, Guest Lecture (Publication) released by Guy Martin for the Final Major Project Module of the MA Photography at Falmouth Flexible, 2018, available on Canvas online platform for MA Photography students at Falmouth University only. London/Falmouth.

Confronting exhibitions

FINAL PROJECT – PROJECT EXHIBITIONS

At the beginning of my MA at Falmouth, I had minor experience in exhibiting my work and most of my past exhibitions were at a local level, in my hometown, mostly. I honestly did not know how to proceed, this is why I asked for advices to Professor McMurdo who suggested me to find a way to accompany my website’s “online gallery” with a physical exhibition that could embrace the diversity of my practice.

I started discussing with my peers about their plans and, since Maryann Morris was looking for someone to share a space with and that our works could be interconnected due to their complementing subject matters, I decided to exhibit with her.

We started searching for exhibiting opportunities close to our respective towns and in London, creating a contact list that we split in order to maximise the effectiveness of our self-promoting work. Among others, I wrote to the Fondamenta Gallery in Rome and to The Oxford House Gallery, Bosse & Baum and Bold Tendencies in London, but due to prohibitive costs, unavailable spaces or logistics problems, we found difficult to find a place that could meet both needs, this is why Maryann decided to provide the location herself at her studio. At the same time, I did not want to miss the possibility to exhibit into a classic Art Gallery and this is why, while honouring my commitment with my peer, I decided to look for further opportunities, too.

Since that moment, I had the chance to launch my project into the public domain in four different contexts of consumption, engaging a wide and diverse audience and organising my work in different ways and including different materials from my imagery: a possibility that a single location could not provide to me. It has been an investment in terms of money and time, but it has also been absolutely worthy.

 

“Art in Mind” at The Brick Lane Gallery Annexe

93-95 Sclater Street | London | E1 6HR | UK.

May 22 – June 3, 2018.

ART IN MIND - FUTURE EXHIBITIONS - THE BRICK LANE GALLERY LONDON

The Brick Lane Gallery, Poster for May-June 2018 edition of Art in Mind group exhibition. ©The Brick Lane Gallery, 2018.

Having place into a classic “white-walls” Gallery based nearby central London, this exhibition gave me the opportunity to present my work not only to general public, but also to professionals in the world of Contemporary Art and to be featured by Contemporary Art Curator Magazine. Since renting the whole space would have been too pricey, I contacted the Gallery and I successfully applied for “Art in Mind” group exhibition, having the chance to share the space with other artists from all over the world. In this circumstance, I only had the chance to present still images from my work: this is why I opted for isolated long-exposure photographs of screams selected from my “Sequences” or “Contact sheets”, since I sensed that it was the solution that could maximise the visual and emotional impact. Being a group-exhibition, the attention on my work was clearly diluted, but being the only photographer exhibiting and the minimal set up I opted for, in contrast with the surrounding ones, definitely helped in improving the final impression. The Gallery Manager kindly agreed to make me participate to, and supervise, the set up of my area and the collaboration with her assistants has been a great opportunity not only to have an active role in this phase, but also to understand how the work of a Gallery, prior to an art event, is usually managed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dayana Marconi, I can hear you now at Art in Mind, May 22nd 2018, documenting-images of the set up phase. Slideshow. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dayana Marconi, I can hear you now at Art in Mind, May 23rd 2018, documenting-images of the opening night. Slideshow. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.

Like for the all the first three exhibitions I participated to, I invited Professors, Tutors, Lynn Chambers from MAYN Creative and, in this specific case, following the Professor McMurdo’s suggestion, also Christiane Monarchi, Founder and Editor of Photomonitor. Unfortunately, she could not participate to the show, but she kindly included the event into the “Listing” section of her Magazine and, during our brief exchange of e-mails, she also provided me with a supportive feedback on my practice and its dedicated website.

 

“I can hear you now” solo exhibition at FuoriLuogo Art and Culture Residence

Via Govone 15 | Asti | 14100 AT | Italy.

June 8-16, 2018.

04_FL

FuoriLuogo Art and Culture Residence, Poster for 8-16 June 2018 “I can hear you now” photographic exhibition exhibition. ©FuoriLuogo Art and Culture Residence, 2018.

This has definitely been the most laborious but engaging experience among my four degree shows because while it gave me the opportunity to exhibit the project in my hometown, to present both my stills and video production and to have a whole two-floor building available to be set up accordingly to my need to create an itinerary that could be followed by the audience transforming an exhibition into a sort of “art-experience”, inspired by the work done by David Fathi in the creation of his “The last road of the immortal woman” installation at Les Rencontres d’Arles.

David Fathi, The last road of the immortal woman, Installation view – Les Rencontres d’Arles, 2017, Arles, France. ©David Fathi, 2017. Slideshow.

This degree show also gave me the chance to publicly speak about my Anxiety Disorder with my audience, something I had never discussed even with most of my friends before the event, afraid of being misjudged.

The exhibition started on June 8 at 9.30pm with the projection of the short documentary “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]” and, subsequently, viewers have been invited to follow the designed path and to have an active role in my project thanks to some activities designed to engage their participation. Even if a couple of people from the audience acted in a disturbing way, as explained into one of my previous articles, the overall response has been absolutely positive and the “Table of activities” I created has been particularly appreciated both by participants and organisers, who invited me to exhibit with them again.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dayana Marconi, I can hear you now at FuoriLuogo Art and Culture Residence, documenting-images of the opening night. Slideshow. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.

While most of the audience was observing my work at the first floor, I silently entered the room with one of my sitters and, in a corner, I started to portray her like I usually do for the creation of my “Sequences”. The room immediately became so silent that her scream resounded into the whole building. It is very unfortunate that my back-up camera stopped working while filming the performance not giving me the chance to share a video of the experience and viewers’ reaction but, luckily, my companion still had the possibility to take some photos of that moment.

 

“I AM HERE. HERE I AM” Art-event in collaboration with Maryann Morris

The Studio | Wishingwell Farm | Marks Tey | Essex | CO6 1EZ | UK.

July 7, 2018.

While, initially, the exhibition was conceived  to be a joint exhibition of two photographers only, Maryann opened it to her companion and other two artists and I must admit I am definitely glad she did it because it has been a very interesting experience to collaborate with individuals with different artistic visions and backgrounds as an art-collective. Since Maryann needed a large-format poster introducing her practice in order to cover the window separating the two areas in which we were exhibiting, she printed two further ones to be used into my area and Will’s, giving viewers a visual sense of continuity while passing from an area to another. I placed mine at the beginning of the passage in which I hung my prints. The audience, in this way, had the chance to receive some information about my work before “facing” it. Subsequently, they could observe the same “isolated screams” exhibited at the Brick Lane Gallery and small photographic prints of my “Twelve episodes” placed on the opposite wall in a set up aiming to recall Elina Brotherus’ “Comma 27” exhibition at the Bloomberg Space. This created a sort of visual tour taking to the room in which my short documentary and videos were projected in loop and, then, to the room dedicated to Maryann’s work. The final result was definitely interesting, since our two project resulted perfectly interconnected but maintaining their individuality at the same time and, into the other section of the building, Will’s images were connected to Ed and Nathan’s music production and performances.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dayana Marconi, I can hear you now at I AM HERE. HERE I AM, documenting-images of the event-night. Slideshow. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.

On “I AM HERE. HERE I AM” website, designed by Maryann, there are some photographs and a video I shot during the event-night that can be seen at the following link, alongside some snapshots taken by Maryann: https://iamhereexhibit.wordpress.com/the-event/

 

Landings 2018 on http://www.landings.space/

Falmouth/Rome

 August 17-24, 2018

Landings 2018, currently ongoing, is giving me the opportunity to focus on my short documentary “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”, previously presented as element an of the exhibitions only, while maintaing a connection with Falmouth University at the same time. Being an online-based exhibition managed, as explained into the dedicated article, by Professor McLeod in collaboration with Falmouth Flexible and some of my peers, I had no role in its set up but to provide a web page and a brief introduction to this piece of work before users could watch it: this is why I opted to use the dedicated page on my website, having the chance to promote its contents at the same time.

Since I participated to Landings 2017 edition as well, I sensed this was the best way to close a circle, making my first exhibition at Falmouth University and the last one almost “colliding”, recreating also that idea of “loop” present into the documentary exhibited at this stage.

 

References:

Bloomberg SPACE/Artmap, Comma 27:Elina Brotherus, September 2010 issue https://artmap.com/bloombergspace/exhibition/comma-27-elina-brotherus-2010

Brick Lane Gallery, Art in Mind 22nd May – 4th June 2018, article included into the “Past exhibitions” area of the Gallery’s website https://thebricklanegallery.com/art-mind-22nd-may-4th-june-2018

Fathi David, The Last Road of the Immortal Woman, 2017, art installation at Les Rencontres d’Arles, France. Information on David Fathi’s official website, dedicated area http://www.davidfathi.com/lastroad.php

Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence, I Can Hear You Now – Dayana Marconi, presentation included into Events’ calendar of the Residence, June 2018 issue http://www.fuoriluogoasti.com/eventi/?action=evrplusegister&event_id=193

Landings 2018, official website http://www.landings.space/

Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now, official website http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/

Marconi Dayana/Morris Maryann, I am here. Here I am, official website of the art event https://iamhereexhibit.wordpress.com/

Medical humanities

FINAL PROJECT – INDEPENDENT RESEARCH

The mission of Medical Humanities is to change the image of modern Medicine through the contribution of different fields of knowledge and disciplines: it is an interdisciplinary approach fittingly including humanities, arts and social sciences to medical practice in order to improve the patients’ experience.

As the overview of the related MSc at the King’s College in London explains, the connections among these different disciplines want to respond to philosophical questions, like: “What can the humanities do to contribute to healthcare? How do they differ from the sciences? And what can they tell us about illness?” (King’s College, 2018).

Another definition, related to the Academic environment, is the one provided by the Research Centre at the University of Exeter: “The term medical humanities covers a range of perspectives and approaches that explore scientific knowledge, clinical practice and health-care policies, as well as experiences, narratives and representations of health and disease.Often conceived primarily in terms of humanising medical students and doctors, the medical humanities also possess the potential to offer critical insights into health and disease that are complementary, rather than antagonistic, to those provided by research in the medical sciences” (University of Exeter, 2018).

As Belinda Jack analysed in her 2015 “The rise of medical humanities”, “The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates claimed that ‘wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity’, suggesting both that medicine is an ‘art’ and that there is a crucial association between medicine and the ‘human’ dimension of the humanities” (Jack, 2015). Of course, this does not mean that medical Doctors who undertook the path of Medical Humanities must be considered better professionals than their colleagues in absolute, but it simply means that they possibly became more open to empathy, reciprocal respect, self-awareness, and a reflexive attitude in their practice: this because, as the Scottish physician, medical writer and moralist John Gregory wrote in his “Lectures on the Duties and Qualifications of a Physician”, “A gentle and humane temper, so far from being inconsistent with vigor of mind, is its usual attendant; rough and blustering manners generally accompany a weak understanding and a mean soul” (Gregory, 1772).

The involvement of Humanities in the Health Care system is very important nowadays in a social situation in which, in many cases, treatments are not equally accessible and in which mental health patients often do not receive an appropriate professional support. This is why the global charitable foundation, dedicated to improve health and research, currently the UK’s largest non-governmental source of funds for biomedical research and also founder and funder of the Wellcome Collection in Euston, in London as mentioned into a previous article, the Wellcome Trust, is taking Medical Humanities very seriously, as Belinda Jack let her readers know. She also interviewed Colin Blakemore, asking the former chief executive of the Medical Research Council, what is the general approach to this cross-discipline and what he could notice was a quite high level of hostility and prejudice in the medical environment.

Today, three years after her article, the situation is slightly changed, even if not completely. Development in the perception of this cross-disciplinary approach to Medicine is finding new supporters also thanks to publications like “The Journal of Medical Humanities”, founded at the beginning of 1980 and initially titled “Bioethics quarterly”. Into Volume 2, edited in March 1980, Arthur L Kobler, psychotherapist and member of the National Board of American Civil Liberties Union, wrote the article “Suicide: Right and Reason”, a topic I found quite “radical” if we consider that we are discussing a 38-years old publication. Dr. Kobler, in spite of the law in force at that time and the popular and clinical perspective on the act itself, decided to support the thesis that suicide is a complex concept, often involving a multifaceted series of circumstances rather than simply be the manifestation of a mental illness, like it was considered at the time. He did not mean to justify the act in any way possible, but to find a more effective way to prevent it by enhancing a deeper sense of awareness in the professionals working in the health and social care environment. This, in my opinion, is the perfect example of what Medical Humanities is: a constructive use of philosophical theories and different disciplines to guide medical staff, social assistants, psychologists and all those professional figures actively working with individuals to better comprehend the people they take care of.

A different perspective on the topic has been offered by Professor Jack Coulehan, who wrote “Medical humanities relates to, but is not identical with, the art of medicine, for which nowadays we often use the word “doctoring.” Doctoring requires communication skills, empathy, self-awareness, judgment, professionalism, and mastering the social and cultural context of personhood, illness, and health care. Learning doctoring includes a process of character formation that requires years of role modeling and guided practice. We base our claim for the importance of medical humanities on the assumption that our teaching contributes significantly to the development of doctoring skills. However, a moment’s thought should tell us that physicians of the past must have learned these skills without studying such a discipline, and many continue to do so today. Thus, whatever medical humanities is, it’s not a sine qua non for professional formation” (Coulehan, 2008), explaining that, nowadays, we no longer study philosophy or literature to become better person. Anyway, Professor Coulehan, into the same article, later added “Despite all this, medical humanities feels right. As with any new field, it’s full of enthusiastic advocates who aren’t afraid of rocking the boat. At present medical education is a patched-up old hull that could sink at any time. Boat rockers are important to help convince the rest of us that we better get to the shipyard quickly and find ourselves a new model. I suspect that humanities educators who succeed at this do so because they are sensitive and thoughtful people who care passionately about medical education and not because they know a lot about philosophy or literature. Medical humanities also points the way toward remedial education in habits of the heart. Nowadays, our culture disvalues liberal education, is skeptical of virtue, and, in particular, glorifies self-aggrandizement over altruism. Thus, today’s medical students usually lack a liberal education and often a belief in virtue. These factors make them more vulnerable to a culture of medicine that reinforces egoism, cynicism, and a sense of entitlement. Medical humanities (whatever it is) may assist students in resisting these negative forces by opening their hearts to empathy, respect, genuineness, self-awareness, and reflective practice” (Coulehan, 2008), corroborating, in spite of his own doubts, the value of Medical Humanities.

To conclude, the aim of Medical Humanities is not to “humanise” health care system, but to lead back its activities to their original purpose: the dedication to human being, enhancing a new awareness of the duties and responsibilities towards patients through observation, critical and self-analysis and a deeper form of reflection.

I think this is a very interesting perspective to consider my project “I can hear you now”, since art is one of the disciplines involved into the discourse. Can photography in general, and my specific case, be evolved in the future as a research related to Medical Humanities? My opinion is positive since, portraying the perspective of those individuals who actually benefit from health care, or mental care in some cases, assistance, professionals in these fields might have the chance to directly observe the impact of Society on human being and to be enable in observing and analyse negative emotions before they could potentially generate health issues. Moreover, they might have the chance to observe individuals portrayed from a non-medical perspective and this could touch them on a more personal level, enhancing that sense of empathy so important for Medical Humanities. In the end, from a very personal point of view, I could also provide the perspective of an individual suffering from a mental health disorder and who found in art a way to complete a personal journey leading to self-awareness and started from a traditional therapy that only partially worked in the past. My project, to conclude, might provide a dual vantage point at the same time: the one of the observer and the one of the observed, mirroring and complementing each other like those disciplines unrelated to Medicine can complement the vision of health care professionals in relation to those individuals in treatment, also preventing problems that otherwise might occur.

 

References:

Coulehan Jack Professor, What Is Medical Humanities and Why?, on LITMED Literature Arts Medicine Database, March 2008 issue https://medhum.med.nyu.edu/magazine/?p=100

Gregory John, Lectures on the Duties and Qualifications of a Physician. London, W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1772. Reprinted in McCullough LB (Ed.) John Gregory’s Writings on Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine, 1998, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands. Pp. 182.

Jack Belinda, The rise of medical humanities, on The Higher Education official website, January 2015 issue https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/the-rise-of-the-medical-humanities/2018007.article

King’s College, Medical Humanities MSc, 2018, London, UK, course presentation on King’s College website   https://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/taught-courses/medical-humanities-msc.aspx

Kobler, Arthur L., Suicide: Right and Reason, on Bioethics Quarterly, 1980, 2: 46 Kluwer Academic Publishers-Human Sciences Press, MA/CA, USA https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00917056 [archive accessed: Aug 20, 2018]

Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now, official website http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/

Springer Links, Journal of Medical Humanities, online volumes https://link.springer.com/journal/10912

University of Exeter, Inspiring Research. Medical Humanities, presentation available into the Research section of the University’s official website http://www.exeter.ac.uk/research/inspiring/keythemes/hass/medicalhumanities/

Wellcome Collection, official website https://wellcomecollection.org/

Wellcome Trust, official website https://wellcome.ac.uk/