Exercise - Personal work

Just spent the last two hours reading through the projects of the students in the reader and from there following all sort of links that were put on the OCA students' website. I noticed that these projects are all examples of the types of narratives that were discussed earlier in this part. With the text and underlying information much of the emotions and meanings come to light and make the visuals very intimate and contemplative. I recognize the feelings that are portrayed in the projects and even though they are very universal, they are elevated out of the ordinary and make me feel privileged to get insight and be part of these personal stories. If not given the background information the photos themselves could be viewed as very unanimous and impersonal and the examples show the power of the combination of text and image.

Dewald Botha's Ring Road resonates most with me. I have lived in places that were unknown and looked really ugly and desolated. I remember walking around in these cities, looking for beauty in order to make me feel better and less alienated. I lived in Warsaw and Luanda in the late 90s, places that were grim and breathing war and suffering. The thing that kept me going was finding nature and beauty in unexpected places and being really happy when seeing grass or proper paved roads. I find the link that Dewald makes with freedom and limitations very interesting. When you are in a new place you feel a certain freedom to explore it, but because of the unknown and unfamiliarity you somehow feel isolated and trapped as well. This being limited to a certain area is very much reflected in his images. They are all taken from and around the ring road, looking out to a world that is not his own. But by keeping the Ring Road as his vantage point, he finds the freedom to explore. I was very impressed by the way Dewald describes this:

Ring Road questions and explores exactly that which allows us our freedom, or what we believe the definition of freedom is, but which we turn into our won invisible limitations and boundaries. Do we create these limitations out of a need of knowing where limitations lie in today's unlimited and undefined world? Are we experiencing a sense of being lost or displacement, and attempting to rectify or stabilise our sense of self through redefining the parameters, which we have in some way become disconnected from?

Botha, D. (no date) Ring road. Available at: http://www.dewaldbotha.net/ring-road.html (Accessed: 11 February 2016)

After that I have been looking at the work of Latoya Ruby Frazier, especially her The Notion of Family project. In her statement she explains how she has been documenting her family and their life in an industrial town Braddock. Her images reflect the effects the rise and decline of the steel industry and the environmental hazards that accompanied it on three generations of women, her grandmother, mother and herself. As she states: 'There is an intergenerational transference of our identities existing in the history of Braddock Pennsylvania.'

Ruby Frazier, L. (no date) Statement. Available at: http://www.latoyarubyfrazier.com/statement/ (Accessed: 11 February 2016).

Again, I feel drawn into a family and their history through the combination of stunning images and the story told through her writings and in her videos. On the other hand, because the relationship between her and her mother and grandmother are visualized so strongly, I start to wonder about the relationship I have with my own mother, how the environment I lived in influenced us or not and if I feel as strongly connected with her or my grandmother as shown in the pictures. 

Regarding the question about how I feel about the loss of authorial control that comes when the viewer projects their own experiences and emotions onto the images I've created, I believe that it is something inherent to photography in the first place. In showing your work to others, or even in the decision to capture a certain scene in a certain time you loose control over how it will be interpreted by others who see it out of the context. I do think that certain images are more controlling than others and that you can influence the viewer by what you show. On the whole, I am excited when viewers see things in my work that I hadn't noticed myself, it also teaches myself about how I look at things and that what I think I see might actually mean something else or be something else.