My FMP is about capturing the loss of the person I care most about and the titanic struggle to find a way to carry on. Paul Strand said that ‘Your photography is a record of your living, and today, we might add, of your unconscious mind too.’ (Adams and Byrne 1994: 119). I have lived for 30 years with the love of my life chronically ill and, in the end, totally paralysed and in pain. In January this year she went to Switzerland to die with dignity.
The key themes of the project focus on my psychological journey. They are:
• Life and death.
• Loss, failure and defeat.
In previous modules I searched for other practitioners who had explored this subject and discovered Cristina Nuñez. Cristina wrote the book ‘Higher Self – The Self Portrait Experience’ with a companion book of images ‘But Beautiful.’ She gave a TED talk on her work TED Talk Link . She now has a doctorate in the subject of using self portraits and the unconscious to create art. In the last module I spoke to Cristina at length who was generous in looking at my work and engaging in conversations about the subject.
I am enrolled in the global online workshop over May to July this year which will provide important material and critical evaluation for my FMP. This workshop has 14 participants including members in New Zealand, Australia, Israel, USA, France, England and Spain. The experience is described below from the introduction to the workshop. Link
I will include in my CRJ the progress in this workshop.
The Self Portrait Experience (SPEX)
The Self-Portrait Experience (SPEX) is an artistic device created by Cristina Nuñez in 2004, which uses autobiographical art with photography and video, for individual and social transformation. It is based on Nuñez’s personal practice with self-portrait since 1988 to overcome the self-stigma resulting from her heroin addiction in adolescence.
SPEX is a journey through all aspects of one’s life, with a series of artistic exercises, divided in three parts:
- ME: emotions, character representation, body, places, roots.
- ME AND THE OTHER: one-to-one relationship self-portraits and portraits
- ME AND THE WORLD: group portraits and self-portraits
Participants work individually and in group, on the multiple perceptions of the works produced, following SPEX’s artistic criteria of perception and choice, to discover that our perception is ever-changing and to establish an on-going dialogue with and between the images. Little by little participants build sequences that give shape to their self-portrait project, which can be the beginning of their visual autobiography.
SPEX: the objectives
SPEX is a powerful tool to transform our lives into works of art, which allow the expression of our authentic self, to:
1. Stimulate the unconscious creative process by transforming emotions into works of art.
2. Enrich and strengthen the participants’ self-image and self-perception.
3. To enrich and strengthen the public image of the participants and their perception of others and of society.
4. Through the publication of the images and the projects, create a mirror in which viewers can reflect and identify themselves. So we defend emotional expression through art, to propose a society more focused on the authentic needs of human beings.
SPEX: the videos
Someone to Love brings together for the first time the best self-portraits made by Cristina Nuñez during her life. The author’s voice accompanies the viewer through her family history and her childhood, her troubled adolescence as a heroin addict and the evolution of her self-image, her relationships and the discovery of the self-portrait as an instrument of self-therapy. The last sequence shows the project on her mother’s life, including collaborative self-portraits and family pictures, right up to her last breath.’
ADAMS, Robert and Wendy BYRNE. 1994. Why People Photograph: Selected Essays and Reviews. 1st edn. New York: Aperture.