When I First Saw You, is a photographic installation that engages the viewer in the choice between power and vulnerability present when someone is actively perceiving someone else and when we, as actors in a one time play, desire to be looked at. Through this work I want to explore the complexities of perception, specifically the weight of being looked at by men and the presence, or lack there of, of yearning for that attention as a female. This double consciousness, a sense of internalizing the view of men, in particular has haunted me from a very early age. A duality that curiously lives within a photograph too, inherently at once an exact reproduction of reality as well as an endless well for illusion and fantasy.
Milan Kundera’s moving literary work, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, gave words to this dichotomy between emptiness (being light) and meaning (being heavy) My work also aims to express this struggle between being weighed down, in this case by gaze, or lightened by trying to fade ones self into the background; There is part of me that longs to be looked at and favorably evaluated but also a part that hopes to ultimately be unburdened and unnoticed. I am drawn to the similarities between this duality and how when we present curated images of ourselves onto the internet for which we want those eyes, we unabashedly crave the attention, but being presented with the same attention in the flesh has a more complicated voyeuristic quality.
Through a series of portraits and visual devices I am questioning that direct connection that the gaze can have in making us feel powerful, or alternatively making us feel uncomfortable. Allowing each viewer to actively engage in their own view of violence, violation, and intimacy and obfuscate that view with tenderness, contemplation, and isolation that comes with the remove of a photograph. Highlighting the contextual behavior of humans in public versus private space, and hopefully how it can feel to be unable to escape the weight of a man’s gaze.
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.
TBD: This is Bike Polo Vol 1
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.