“I can hear you now” solo exhibition: personal project – personal thoughts

FINAL PROJECT – STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

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After one week, tomorrow my “I can hear you now” solo exhibition at Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence will end and I must admit that even if it has been very interesting to create the whole set-up by myself, I must admit it has been a quite tough experience, too.

The location is placed in my hometown, where just a few people knew about my issues with Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks. What I have done, it wasn’t just a presentation of my work, it has been a proper “coming out” as well and I have been surprised by the audience’s response. While most of participants demonstrated interest into my project and its subject matter, I had the chance to experience how “disruptive” some individuals might become when they must face “the other” and, possibly, when they don’t know how to appropriately approach those presented topics.

table of activities

Dayana S. Marconi, I can hear you now, solo exhibition at Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence, Asti, Italy, June 8th-16th 2018. Table of activities. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.

For the opening night, I decided to create a “Table of activities”. On one side I placed a series of ten images from a sequence I shot on June 7th, printed on transparent lucid papers and used to create a sort of dummy publication that could show the sitter’s emotional process all at once but that also allowed viewers to observe the images individually by placing a white rigid paper behind each one of them. On the opposite side, I placed fifty 10x15cm photographic prints of my “Confrontation sheets” asking all participants to make the written emotions match with the correspondent portrayed scream. I did not expect a high level of participation, so I was surprised when I saw all those people focusing their attention on those photographs and try to interpret them according to their personal experience. As said, unfortunately not all participants demonstrated the required sensitivity to approach this activity in a constructive way. In two cases, those images have been “vandalised”: instead of trying to empathise with my sitters, these two people draw brown tears on one portrait and horns on another. They did it in front of me laughing and, to be honest, while observing the scene I froze: I wasn’t able to react immediately because I re-lived the sense of sadness I experienced when my Mental Health problems haven’t been taken seriously in the past and I felt sorry for the portrayed individuals at the same time because I felt they have been absolutely disrespected. I was shocked and I thought that the right thing to do in that situation was to try to move on since there were other viewers interested in my work and asking for information.

vandalised confrontation sheets

Dayana S. Marconi, I can hear you now, snapshot of two “vandalised” Confrontation sheets. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.

The following day, when I collected all those prints to observe the results of my research, I saw them again and I had a very strong reaction. I ripped them off with anger and frustration and I decided to use social media to publicly say a huge “NO” to these kind of behaviours. I expressed all my pain and frustration and I have never done this before in my life, but I felt like I had to protect and defend my sitters. I can only think that this strong reaction was also generated by the fact that this project is so personal that I lived that sort of attack to the individuals I portrayed as a personal attack. That post on Facebook, where I did not mention the involved individuals, engaged a long discussion and I feel grateful to all those people who supported me in that situation. I don’t know if today I would have the same reaction, but at the same time I think it is my right to strongly defend myself, my sitters and my work. These people were not strangers, this is why the situation has been more than painful to me. If I re-observe the whole situation now that I had the chance to react, I must admit that that disruptive act has been useful, at some level, in terms of my research: it demonstrated that the results of my survey were correct.

06-survey

Dayana Marconi, Mental Health and Social problems in relation with Art, April-May 2918, on Survey Monkey. Screenshots of final statistics-chart related to the question “How do you think that who will observe the final images from the mentioned project will react?”. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.

In this question I asked participants to forecast the audience’s reaction to my work and 9% of answers to “How do you think that who will observe the final images from the mentioned project will react?” (Marconi, 2018) were “They will judge the portrayed people” (Marconi, 2018), while the 4% were “They will be indifferent” (Marconi, 2018). These “negative anticipations” corresponded to a 13% of the total and, since only two people out of 50 images did not “appropriately” participated to the experiment, meaning a 4% of the total, in the end the final result has been more positive than what expected but, at the same time, it was not something completely “out of the blue”.

Analysing the exhibition from another perspective, I found intriguing that more than one participant provided me with an interesting feedback: I have been told that I have been brave since I personally exposed myself so much considering the delicate subject matter, especially when faced in my own city and also considering that the exhibition has been advertised by local press that anyone could read.

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Dayana S. Marconi, I can hear you now, solo exhibition at Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence, Asti, Italy, June 8th-16th 2018. Snapshots of some articles published by “La Stampa”, “Gazzetta d’Asti” and “La Nuove Provincia”, June 8th 2018 issues. Slideshow. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.

This demonstrates, once more, that Mental Health issues and social problems are, as a matter of fact, still considered as a taboo, something “that must remain untold” (Marconi, 2018) as I stated into my video-documentary. The fact that it is not considered “normal” to publicly discuss these topics demonstrates that the starting point of my research was correct.

In the end, considering both the positive and negative implications, I must say I did the right thing: “I can hear you now” is a project that wants to investigate negative emotions and individuality and that wants to serve as Art-therapy, but there is no healing without being open about my health condition, that was a necessary step, even to be 100% loyal to the aims of my practice.

 

References:

Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence, official Website http://www.fuoriluogoasti.com/

Marconi Dayana S., I can hear you now, project’s website http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/

Marconi Dayana S., [ɪˈmaː.ɡoː], “I can hear you now” introductive video-documentary, Asti/Rome/Los Angeles, 2018. Released on the project’s website on May 2018 http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/project/imago-starting-point-documentary/

Marconi Dayana, Mental Health and Social problems in relation with Art, April 9th 2018, Rome, survey created on SurveyMonkey https://it.surveymonkey.com/r/LMNZZC5

Is the project about me?

FINAL PROJECT – STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

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 1-2-1 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 chose 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 orders 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, often isolating them? Yes. Am I the only one 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 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 who were 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 hear “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 one who should care about them (and, in some 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: enough ignoring others’ pain, enough judging and misjudging others, enough avoiding those topics that makes us 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 others to do something if I am not able to do it mymself. 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 how does it feel 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 be a better person by supporting other people in a difficult process of self-analysis and I in the one that helped them 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, using simple words, 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 am reflecting my sitters while they reflect me and, together, we reflect viewers (who 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.

 

References:

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge dictionary, definition of Society https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/society

Marconi Dayana S., 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 S., 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.

Other Careers in the Photography Industry

SUSTAINABLE PROSPECTS – PHOTOGRAPHIC CAREERS

During our first week of this Module, we’ve been asked to reflect on what other careers in Photography Industry we might consider in our future.

As stated writing about my current Assistant and Consultant role in the creation of a documentary based on Irena Sendler’s life during the World War II, I think that different roles can enhance our abilities and skills as photographers, since they provide us with further knowledge and different perspectives.

Said that, if I have to imagine my future in the Industry, I would absolutely consider a role as Assistant Photographer, hopefully in the Cinema Industry, Researcher or Educator. I don’t see myself as a full-time photographer, not only because it is a very difficult reality to face nowadays, an era in which low-cost beats the educational background and working experience, but also because I have been working as a freelancer for years and after paying my bills, VAT, taxes and my Business Consultant my profit was very low. I decided, then, to continue working  as translator, content-creator and Educator as well, in order to improve my income and I realized that having another job allowed me to choose those works I really wanted to accept.

Travelling and moving a lot, like I do, means constantly losing customers and being flexible: I had to reinvent myself many times during these last five years and Photography started to have a minor role in my working life. I needed this situation to change since it is my true passion and this is why I enrolled for this Postgraduate program.

Becoming a Photographer’s assistant, would allow me to learn from a more skilled and experienced professional and, since I have poor studio-based experience, it would also allow me to acquire stronger technical abilities. A “minor” role doesn’t necessary involve less responsibilities: as an assistant I would be asked to be precise, fast, always ready to complete tasks on time, to be available when needed, but, at the same time, it will make me part of something bigger, because without laborers’ work many important project would have never existed. What I would definitely love, as said, would be to become a Photography assistant in the Cinema Industry: that would combine my two main passions at once and it would provide me with a wider range of career’s possibilities in the future.

The Researcher role might be seen in two different ways: in its more literal meaning, that is a person who makes photographic researches for a project (like what I am currently doing for the mentioned documentary), but also, since I am considering a PhD if I will be able to complete this MA Photography at Falmouth, as a role to further use Photography to investigate human behaviour and to understand if “psychological patterns” can be found and analysed and, of course, what their origins are. I believe in Photography as a tool to support other disciplines, such as Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology and Science more broadly and I think that progressing in this path after my MA might be very interesting.

Before applying for this MA, I had to take a hard decision, meaning deciding what path to undertake and what passion/interest to follow: a MA Photography or a MA Criminology? My BA dissertation was related to Social Psychology and I sensed that both ways could have work as a completion of my past educational background (but I presume that one way does not preclude the other, in the end). It resulted I had the necessary skills and qualifications to apply to both programs and this is also why I strongly believe in a multidisciplinary approach to Photography. I absolutely realise that a Researcher role could be something very difficult to achieve, but, in the end, at this stage I am simply discussing who I would like to become in the future, photographically speaking.

Talking about the Educator role, even if I am experienced, I did not appreciate this job in the past because it was involving the wrong Subject, I presume. I would like to provide others with the knowledge my Professors and Tutors provided me with (and still are). Being Photography my true love, I would like to improve as “image reader” alongside my role of image maker, because reading through photographs is what help us to create better images and projects. I could see from the workshop I created during Module 3, that many photographers have strong technical skills but a poor (photographic) educational background: many professionals and amateurs I faced were not able to provide a proper interpretation of a photograph they were observing or to argument their thoughts. They based their image-reading experience simply on their personal experiences and personalities without asking themselves things like: who is the Artist who realized this shot? What is the real message behind this photograph? What are its aims? Why is it important to understand the meaning of this image or its subject matter when we can simply appreciate its aesthetics? As Educator, meaning Tutor or Professor or simply releasing a course as a Teacher, I would like my students to better understand and enhance the potential of their works analysing the ones made by other practitioners that might even become great sources of inspiration, like what they have been to me and will always be in the future.

 

References:

Sendler Irena, Life in a Jar, The Irena Sendler Project, http://www.irenasendler.org/

Duane Michals and The Bogeyman behind me

SURFACES AND STRATEGIES – STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Duane Michals, The Bogeyman, 1973, 7 gelatin silver prints, New York, USA. ©Duane Michals, 1973.

The first time I decided to study Photography it was in 2009 and I was living in Milan: I started to attend a one-year course in “Analog and Digital Photography” taught by Maurizio Bottini, Professor of Photography at the European Institute of Design.

At the beginning of that course I wasn’t sure about my intentions, but then, during my very first lesson, I have seen Duane Michals’ “The bogeyman” and I understood that a camera could have become the right tool to create images related to my life, my emotions, my memories.

As soon I observed this 1973 series, I felt a strong connection with my childhood. These images have a strong relation with my idea of fatherhood and I realised that in all my relationships with men I was opening that coat over and over, but after “going back to my seat” I was still scared by the bogeyman. The fact that a sequence of seven photographs, taken by a complete stranger almost ten years before my birth, could have described my psychological condition so well surprised me and made me understand there was another method to open that coat in a more productive way: Photography.

As written on the permanent collection label applied to this work, “This sequence illustrates the bogeyman, a creature that provokes nighttime fears in children everywhere, in a tale that hints at deeper psychological and metaphysical questions as well” (Art Institute of Chicago, 1989) and today, after eight years, I am going back to the origins of my photographic interest investigating the human condition and looking for visual solutions to represent it.

 

References:

Bottini Maurizio, official website http://www.mauriziobottini.it/

Michals Duane, The Bogeyman, 1973, NY, USA, video released on Youtube in 2011 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-oGv-BG-mI

Michals Duane, The Bogeyman, 1973, About this artwork, Catalogue, 1989, Art Institute, Chicago, USA http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/147665

Evaluating our peers’ works to reinforce our practice.

INFORMING CONTEXTS – STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

During these weeks I’ve been challenged in many ways both photographically and personally speaking.

I’ve learned a bit more in depth how to contextualise my practice, I trained myself not only to speak about Photography, but also to consider it in relation to different contexts and perspectives.

“I can hear you now” – Video Presentation, visual and critical contextualisation. ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this video belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Released on Vimeo on 22nd March 2017.

I’ve been asked to present my work in a video presentation, but also to provide feedbacks to some of my peers. This is a quite difficult task for me, since I am not that confident in my abilities and so I almost feel like I am not allowed to properly evaluate other practitioners’ work: most of the time I feel like I have no idea about what I am doing, like I am wandering in a thick fog, not only as practitioner but as individual too, and this makes me feel uneasy when I have to position myself as “evaluator”.

I have to admit that listening to other photographers talking about their work provided me with causes for further reflections about mine and, at the same time, seeing how they observe my practice made me better understand what works and what doesn’t.

Each individual is different and Photography clearly points out that artists’ individuality. We can better understand the aims of a certain work or see its potential due to the fact that its subject matter is something close to our personal experience, cultural or emotional background, but we could never face or recreate an image in the same way than another photographer would.

Analysing different artistic directions, solutions and perspectives, anyway, can be a powerful way to enhance the way we discuss Photography and the way we present and represent our subjects and it made me understand that the best practice is the one in which we believe, the one that truly means something to us, the one in which we are “included”.

This made me believe more in my current project.

References:

Marconi Dayana, Vimeo Channel, https://vimeo.com/dayanamarconi

The relation between emotions and the creative process – an advice by Alfred Hitchcock

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS – CREATIVE RESEARCH

“I know we’re only human, we do go in for these various emotions, call them negative emotions but when all these are removed and you can look forward, and the road is clear ahead, and now you’re going to create something. I think that’s as happy as I would ever want to be.”

https://youtu.be/14dOICbwSIs

Hitchcock’s definition of Happiness. Source: “A Talk with Alfred Hitchcock”, 1964, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.