I wrote to the photography critic Sabrina Mandanici to ask if she would be willing to critically review my work. Cemre Yesil gave me the introduction. This post works well with the other critical analysis and review contributions post .
Sabrina analysis and review November 13th, 2020
I think, to make this wonderful project even better, is a matter of precision (by which I do not mean clarity, or spelling things out),
Going through both your texts and images several times, I found myself asking the following questions:
Where do you place me (the viewer) when I look at these images?Am I looking at your experience of losing her, and watch her suffering, of the things she left behind, things difficult to face? Most of your images seem to suggest that. However, there are a few images that, to me, suggest something else, which, for a lack of better words, I would describe as capsules of a process of recovery and coping. For me, this latter body of images (the “capsules”) doesn’t work as well as the former.
Not because they are bad images, but because they pull me out and away from the mood
that the body of the main images evoke (to me).
Here are the latter images (page numbers), I am referring to: 12; 13 (maybe); 16; 20.
The other question I have (which somehow also relates to the images mentioned above), is a question about place vs. space – meaning place as something specific, while space is
rather abstract. The way your images and their sequence are coming together right now suggests something between the two. And I feel the overall impact of this series could be
stronger if you decided to move further into one or the other (for instance, does the house give us the frame for details we see within?) or, as an opposite movement, further into space (such as an emotional one). I think you can go either way, but either way should be a bit more decisive than it is now.
Given that I am not a photographer, but a writer and critic who writes about photography, of course I also read your texts – the introduction, as well as the poem – carefully and repeatedly. I love their rawness, and the fact that they are both personal
and easy to relate to. And I think you could make this even stronger with some editing.
As an example, I feel at times, a sentence and its impact can be stronger if it was shortened, for instance:
Original: “They are presented here as part of my process of trying to remember and to forget. It is a process we all face at some time in our lives.”
Suggestion: “Here, they present part of my process, of trying to remember and to forget.
A process we all face at some time in our lives.”
Finally, I also keep thinking about your project’s title – its meaning in relation to the image of the dead bird, and to the rest of the photographs. I have to admit that the meaning remains a mystery – which I like very much. However, I wonder if you could play with that mystery a bit more? For instance, if this project comes together as a book, would you consider splitting the title in two? Meaning, that opening the book, one would
read “Every Bird I See . . .” on the cover and title page and then at the verso end-paper and verso cover “. . . Will Be Part of You”.
My response to Sabrina on November 14th, 2020.
First of all a big thank you for comprehensive, helpful and insightful observation. Everything you say makes sense and will help us with the final resolution for the MA portfolio. I think all of your responses to the images are the quality of question I would like a viewer to ask. Specifically I can say
Where do I place the viewer…..my target viewer is people who are going through what I went through and am going through. I am successful if they see the rawness of my own experience in theirs and that that is helpful for them. I felt very alone at many times on my journey.
Capsules of process of recovery…..I like that phrase and it makes sense…..the MA experience has been a mixture of producing art and part of a therapeutic process. Cemre has been amazing taking me to boundaries I did not want to cross and making me feel safe as I crossed them. I can agree the balance is still resolving as time passes and there is work to do.
Space v place…..when I started the project my intent was to explore my emotional space. I wanted to show to the world….and possibly myself…what was going on inside me. As it progressed place became relevant and part of my work. The house for me is an example of both. At the time I took the image, the night before Karen died, this was an incredibly emotional moment and the image is intended to be a representation of that. However, the place is also relevant. You give me something useful to think about as I can understand moving more to one or the other could clarify the work.
Text….yes I agree…more work to do to get it right.
Title….what a brilliant idea. I will work with that.
Thank you again for taking the time and providing such generous input.