Assignment 3 - Preparations

Initial Thoughts

I haven't heard back from my tutor, so I decided to go along with the option that was most personal, a reflection on my secondary school diaries. I felt very inspired after studying the Dad Project and Duane Michals and felt like I wanted to make a narrative that communicates very strong personal feelings, but also has a universal respons and feel to it, so that the work can be interpreted in a lot of different ways.

Also Sophie Calle's Take Care of Yourself helped me in reflecting on my own writings. How do I look at myself when I was a teenager now that I am older, a married woman and a mother, a teacher and a photographer? Which things could I still have written down today and what has changed because I've gotten older and a bit wiser? It has helped me to step back and look at what I thought and experienced between the age of 12 and 18 in a different way. 

In my photographs I have sometimes taken a literal approach to describing what I had written down, other times more symbolic. I have used my daughters as models and in one image I have taken a self portrait. The decision to photograph my children as part of myself is that I am often reminded of how I experienced my childhood and adolescence when I look at them and see them interact. Besides that, they are so much prettier than I am!

While reading my diaries I was confronted with the fact that I was very religious and  that I let my thoughts and struggles be ruled by what I thought a good Christian should be like. I have chosen a few quotes that reflect that and even more, show how absolutely ridiculous it was. The photos that I have taken with these quotes have a more critical response to the writings. 

In all, I would say that the work is my response to how I look at myself when I wrote the diaries. It's a work of recognition, but also a response that is critical and shows that things turned out quite differently as I had thought they would. 

The work itself

My first source of information are the diaries themselves. I have read through them and written down passages that I found quite typical of who I am, showed the way I used to think about myself and life, funny, or that stood out as a very clear memory. After that I have consciously visualised the passages and decided which ones were visually the most interesting and would make a good balance between my religious thinking, growing up, day to day hassle and my family life. 

After that, I realised that I could use some of the pictures that I have taken a few weeks ago in Udaipur of my family and a room with cages in a palace. I photographed all the other pictures in the past weeks, they were conceptually planned and executed, which is quite new for me!

Below you will find contact sheets of the final selections from which I chose my photos. I might make some last minute changes in which ones I'm going to use, but it gives an overview of what I have done.

An other image is a composition of a photo booth photo of myself that I took when I was 16 years old. I've used that image to draw all the professions on of which I decided that I wanted to become when I was older. At first I was thinking whether I should use a portrait of myself now, but I thought it more interesting to add a photo of myself when I was younger, just to stress the idea that when you're younger you feel like there are still so many possibilities of what you can do. I also like the fact that my eyes are closed in this image, which is a nice reflection of the state of dreaming you're in at that age (and later as well, but anyway) and that in order to dream, you have to close yourself off from reality.

I have copied the image a few times and traced the profession that I had written down in my diaries. Besides that, I have drawn the profession on top of the images. Since my drawing skills have not improved a whole lot since I was 14, this is what it would have looked like when I was that age as well.

While experimenting with the images, I also tried to add a Warhol effect. I don't think the photo lends itself very much to it and and I forgot to paint in the lips, but this will give you an idea what it would look like. Maybe an idea for a next assignment... It is really ugly though!

We continue with looking at each picture separately in my next blog post.