During the Symposium that took place in February 2018 at Penryn, I had the chance to analyse my project with my Tutor Krishna Seth and my Course Coordinator Jesse Alexander. I have been told that I haven’t been able, so far, to make strong choices about the contents that its final version should include because this project is too personal.
Two days ago I had the chance to speak, during a 1 to 1 Tutorial, with my Professor Wendy McMurdo who told me that it is clear that this project is very personal and it is basically about me.
These two feedbacks made me reflect. Is the project about me? Yes and no.
Yes, why? It is about me because it started from a personal perspective.
Does this affect my ability to choose what should be included and what should not? I don’t think so even if, in some cases, it is difficult not to include some materials that I see as important but that, in the end, should result less powerful on a visual and conceptual level. Does it mean that I have not a clear vision in my head? No. It means that I still have more to say and that I am still refining my project’s structure making my last decisions. I portray people and they are multi-faceted: so it is my work since it wants to represent them.
Presenting my project, and discussing the choice related to the act of screaming to make my sitters (including myself) express their inner discomfort and negative emotions, I often use, as starting point for my argumentations, the sentence “The project is born to respond to a personal need since I suffer from Anxiety Disorder and, during panic attacks, I often experience the urge of screaming. I have never had the chance to actually scream, since our lives are managed by social norms that stigmatise these kind of behaviours, conceived as disturbing or deviated. Asking us to be a constant positive role-model, Society enhance a sense of isolation in those individuals affected by similar conditions” (Marconi, 2018).
According to Cambridge Dictionary, Society is “a large group of people who live together in an organized way, making decisions about how to do things and sharing the work that needs to be done. All the people in a country, or in several similar countries, can be referred to as a society” (Cambridge University, 2018) and according to one of the definitions provided by the Oxford Dictionary it is “The aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community” (Oxford University, 2018). What does it order those communities? Norms.
Did I start this project because I have been personally affected by those social norms who stigmatizes those individuals who do not represent those imposed models, being often isolated? Yes. Am I the only person affected by those mentioned norms that tell us how to speak, how to behave, what to wear, what we can say aloud and what we should hide to be considered “decent and polite” individuals? No.
Is it the act of screaming considered something constructive by those norms? No. It is generally considered as deviated and disturbing, because it makes other people feel “uncomfortable”. Can the act of screaming be transformed in something constructive? Yes, if it serves a precise and useful purpose and if screaming is not a way to attack another person but a medium used for self-expression. Is this something about me? Yes, again. Because I experimented in first person the urge of screaming away my pain several times but I had to “put myself together”, moving on and never forgetting to put a smile on my face.
As said into my “Introductive video” by one of its characters while talking about me “I smile, I always do” (Marconi, 2017). Does it mean I always want to smile? No. It means that I MUST smile to be considered “socially acceptable”. Most of those individuals who represent Society want other people to smile. They don’t want to be aware of “the pain of others” (Sontag, 2003), they don’t care but, at the same time, when they are affected by something they require the attention of those individuals around them, the ones who should care about them and, in most cases, even of the ones they don’t care about. So it is about me when I create something to force my audience to actually see and hear other people’s struggle: enough ignoring the pain of others, enough judging and misjudging them, enough avoiding those topics that makes people feel uncomfortable. My statement is: Do you want to be seen and listened when you need it? Then, see. Listen. Is it about me? Yes. Am I the only one affected by this situation? No. Can I position myself out of this vicious circle? Yes. By listening to others’ stories, giving them the chance to release those negative emotions they had to hide for so long. So, is it about me? Yes. Is it about me only? Again, no.
Now, let’s focus on what my sitters (and me, of course) can release with that act of screaming: negative emotions. I included myself into my body of work at all levels because, as said, it is personal but also because I cannot ask someone to do something if I am not able to do it myself. I am not a voyeur and I do not want to become one. I experienced frustration, grief, loss, pain, rage, hate and all those feelings released by the subjects I portrayed; but if we start from the perspective that we are the only ones suffering we are wrong. Suffering taught me to care about others, even the ones I do not like or respect. I know the feeling of being ignored while suffering and I decided to behave in a different way when I see someone struggling for any reason. So, is it about me? Yes, because this project gave me the chance to become a better person by supporting others in a difficult process of self-analysis and in releasing those negative emotions. It helped me also because I followed that process myself. Is it about me only? No, because my aim has always been to give a voice to those sitters I photographed during these two years. We worked together, we suffered together because I “absorbed” their screams and their stories, we engaged passionate discussions before each shooting, we screamed together.
So, to keep it simple, what is this project about? It is a challenge, a provocation. With my work I am trying to say: stop ignoring the pain of other individuals, start dealing with yours, stop being so blocked by those norms that decide how you must behave. Face yourself, face others. In these months, my project became a sort of house of mirrors: I reflect my sitters while they reflect me and, together, we reflect viewers (who, clearly, reflect us). We are in the same situation, somehow.
So, for the last time, is this project about me? Absolutely yes, but it is not only about me at the same time. It is about me and about anyone who wants to hear, listen, see and face this challenge.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge dictionary, definition of Society https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/society
Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now: project-reintroduction, February 2018, https://daybydaydayana.wordpress.com/2018/02/25/i-can-hear-you-now-project-reintroduction/
Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now: Introductive video, May 2017, video released on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/213764162
Oxford University Press, Oxford dictionary, definition of Society https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/society
Sontag Susan, Regarding the pain of the others, 2003, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY, USA.