Improvements on module 152MC

When discussing with my lecturer at the end of my last module: 152MC, about my grading and how the assignment went in general, I was given some food for thought. It was proposed that I improved on this module during summer and that I think about the following:

How has art been used to speak about depression?

Am I breaking new ground with this topic of photography?

How has depression been dealt with before?

Have I built on other work? Or how is it different? 

 

How has art been used to speak about depression?

Many people, particularly creative people, use art as a form of recovery, or a coping mechanism. But there may be an on-going, viscous circle here. Some say artists get depression from art “There’s a question as old as human sadness itself: does the creation of art make people depressed, or are depressed people naturally attracted to the outlet of art? It’s one of those chicken-egg debacles. The two theories feed each other in a tangled loop.” (Spencer Ruchti, 2015) Most artists are in touch with their emotions, it what we constantly use as a tool in our work, we have all experienced some kind of emotional battle.

“I am in no doubt that art saved my life—because it is the only thing I could have done that was not entirely self-destructive. I once told a journalist, “I could have started on heroin, but I started to paint.” When you suffer, you must do something with that suffering. That is why my goal is to always paint my emotions. A statement by Munch, who was inspired by the Bohemian writer Hans Jæger, is frequently on my mind. He said you should paint your life story, exclaiming, “No longer shall I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting. I will paint living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love.”” (Carolyn Edlund, 2015)

For many artists, emotion is what makes great art, for a lot of us this emotion comes from the bad times, depression. “The greatest art about depression is art that connects us in our very human sadnesses. And, if any universal truth exists, it is that sadness and tragedy will always be present in our lives. Let us build communities with them.” (Spencer Ruchti, 2015)

Its hard to find a well-known, creative individual who hasn’t had some kind of depression at some point in their lives, and who hasn’t used this to create or speak about their art and their lives. Well-known photographer Diane Arbus for example, died in 1971 by suicide, Vincent Van Gogh the same, commit suicide in 1890. What I’m trying to say is that too many people have created art to help with their depression, but very few have USED art to speak about depression. Myself for example. In my last module 152MC, I wanted to create photography on the topic of depression, but I didn’t want to be literal or create what has been done before. For example those general photographs we see all the time of people in dark, depressing places. Of course this literal photography is still visually great, for instance, the photographer Edward Honaker was diagnosed with depression and decided to represent his self-defeating tendencies in his art:

honaker-top465

But my photography on the topic of depression is different. It was not created as a means of helping me with depression, it was a way of talking about depression and representing depression in a different way. My body of work showed landscapes, in which something wasn’t quite right, this was repeated throughout my photobook suggesting that depression isn’t always literal, its deeper than that, you can’t see it. So yes, I think that my work may be breaking new ground with this topic of photography. I’m sure there is work similar to mine in the sense of illustrating depression in different ways, but not the same way as I have through the landscape.

Another individual who uses photography as a means of coping with depression is Christian Hopkins.

““I was never all that good with words. Thats why I take pictures,” he tells us. Hopkins has never taken a photography class in his life, and his photographs are simply a medium through which he can express himself. “This is just a hobby. A camera, a body, and a mind. Nothing else,” he says.” ( Michael Zhang, 2013)

 

Have I built on other work? Or how is it different? 

At the beginning of my 152MC module I looked into the work of Paul Graham, Troubled Land, which is about depicting the troubles in Northern Ireland. In his photography you see things within the landscape which don’t quite work, or shouldn’t be there, but you only notice this after seeing the collection of the work. Without viewing the whole collection, you wouldn’t see the connection. In a way, I have built upon Graham’s work by being inspired by this and creating something similar, but for a different meaning and concept.

I have spoken above about how my work is different to that of usual photography on the topic of depression. It is not visually literal, nor is it dark, dingy and lonely like depression.

 

 

Something else I found interesting whilst re-visting 152MC is this website:

http://brokenlightcollective.com

It is an online photography gallery for those people affected by mental health issues. You don’t have to have a mental health issue to contribute yourself, you may also be affected by a friend or family or know someone who’s struggling.

“Broken Light’s main goal is to create a safe and accepting environment where photographers of all levels who are affected by mental health issues can display their work, as well as inspire one another to keep going and keep creating, despite the dark or scary places in which they may find themselves”

This is something very interesting to me and something I may contribute to in the near future when I feel more confident within my work and have set myself up a website etc.

 

The final product of 152MC was my photo book, of which I felt was strong and successful. One thing I would have liked to have made better was the literal readability of the book. For the front of the book, I scored the card enabling the reader to open the book wider, this needs to be done to the back too to make the book more flexible and for the pages to open wider.

 

 

 

References:

Ruchti, S. (2015) 3 Artists Who Talk About Depression [online] available from: http://theodysseyonline.com/umt/3-artists-talk-about-depression/166789 [6th September 2015]

Schneider, M. (2015) These photographs absolutely nail depression [online] available from: http://dangerousminds.net/comments/these_photographs_absolutely_nail_depression [6th September 2015]

http://brokenlightcollective.com

Zhang, M. (2013) Photographer creates emotive images to help cope with depression [online] available from: http://petapixel.com/2013/04/15/photographer-creates-emotive-images-to-help-cope-with-depression/ [3rd September 2015]

 

 

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