The series, When I First Saw You walks along the delicate bridge between power and vulnerability that exists in the relationship between observer and subject, women and men, and men and “manliness”. Originally I found inspiration in the ever present complexities of my own desire to be looked at and evaluated by the opposite sex. However, instead of reinterpreting how the male gaze has affected and continues to affect images of the feminine, I am turning the camera to look upon men. Generally in our society images of men simulate a fortitude of body and emotion, while women are predisposed to be depicted as amiable, submissive, or pleasing.
By giving my, and subsequently the viewers attention to the male gaze, questions such as, what does it look like when men allow themselves to be photographed by, and therefore vulnerable to, a female photographer? And what does it mean for me as a woman to explore the human desire of being looked at and really seen by others? All the while keeping in mind that I, as all women, have very little choice about when and where we become an object to be looked at. Using the inverse of the male gaze: feminine vision, this project examines vulnerability and tenderness by pairing portraits of real men with a duality of our societal perspective of malehood, beauty, and the ambiguous interpretation of identity.
There is a certain amenableness historically underwritten into depictions of women. While images of men tend to simulate their unmovable fortitude, focusing on their strength of body, strength of emotion, even the strength of light itself. So what does it look like when men allow themselves to be seen as vulnerable in our society? What would it be like for our society in turn to see them as vulnerable creatures? And in the other hand what does it mean for a woman to gaze upon men the way they often do us? Through this project I am confronting something that I have to think about every day, which is when a man is looking at me, and dually turning that consciousness towards searching for the unguarded parts of the male experience by staring back.
Another Empty Vessel is a bridge connecting the more intimate experiences that make us all human and the structures that have been built to house the archaic standards of manliness. The ambiguity of the narrative parallels the ambiguity of the social construct of male identity, pairing pieces of evidence alongside portraits of real men.
The word is traditionally Welsh, though poorly translatable to an english vernacular. The best the internet can produce as way of definition is: (n.) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.
The part of the translation that alludes to the feeling of loss being connected to a place or past that may not have ever existed, piqued my curiosity. The idea of home and place of origin which one can fall back on has always been an abstract concept for me growing up in a military household. Though, for most, where we come from plays a large roll in how we define ourselves. The leaven of the project is the idea that we can construct nostalgia, construct self, without having ever had the wholeness of experience for which we yearn. The photographs are meant to take on the unrealistic notion of perfection that has built up over time in our national psyche; the life we thought we would have and at times still cling to, and the one we were actually given.
The Stories We Keep Telling
To Be Determined
Towards the end 2011, I started playing bike polo after graduating from college in the midwest. During that time, I was seeking refuge within a social community, coincidently bike polo presented itself to me like an oasis in the desert. My story is not unique amongst those who have chosen to be a part of this sport. Relatively small and obscure still, there are few communities that allow for as much individual ownership as bike polo. The rules are generated by the community, tournaments are structured by clubs, there is always an available couch for travel; therefore, staying consistent within your polo community, eventually you will be acquainted with almost every player in the game.
To Be Determined is a personal photography project, focusing on the people of bike polo, their quiet bond, and the strength of character. Each individual brings their unique qualities to create a distinctive community. The past few years have allowed the sport to flourish. With the progression of bike polo and the community, this documentary is destined to include many more of the individuals that are creating the sport and community one joust at a time.