Mementos is a series revolving around photographing the human body and body image. Some of the images are easily identifiable, while others are abstracted details of unrevealed areas. The photographs are usually multiple exposures printed using a combination of 19th century processes, printmaking techniques, and dye transfers, giving the images an obscured impression, and sometimes leaving the viewer unclear of the objectives. Combined with the more literal images, however, the series, as a whole begins to be coherent.
“If I were just curious, it would be very hard to say to someone, "I want to come to your house and have you talk to me and tell me the story of your life." I mean people are going to say, "You're crazy." Plus they're going to keep mighty guarded. But the camera is a kind of license. A lot of people, they want to be paid that much attention and that's a reasonable kind of attention to be paid.”
The attention, whether good or bad, is what many seek. The image of one’s body, as a physical object is shown in a different manner; to be viewed as art. The subjects in this series are all under the same belief that their bodies are flawed. Their fixation on this “flaw” has evolved into a belief that this is actually who they are. This form of narcissism is what I call attention to in this series.
Literature on narcissism provides us with an array of questions: Is narcissism healthy or unhealthy? Is it gender-oriented? A personality disorder? Defensive or offensive? Culture-based? Many tend to think of a narcissist as an individual who thinks highly of oneself. However, a narcissist is more likely to be described as having a deflated, inadequate self-perception and greater awareness of emptiness within. "The narcissism of an individual parallels that of the culture. We shape our culture according to our image and in turn we are shaped by that culture. How can we understand one without understanding the other?" (Alexander Lowen, M.D. Narcissism: Denial of the True Self)
Lacan sees narcissism as, “The irreducible and temporal condition of human reality…A fragmented body image provides interesting metaphors for experiences of loss and alienation.” One of my goals is to create an emotional response by creating beautiful images of flawed bodies, flawed images of beautiful bodies, and new images combining the two. I am working the considered flaws into the images as line and form, rather than addressing them as flaws.
Being a woman in this society and having been all shapes and sizes, I have a personal attachment and connection to the work. I feel strongly that this new narcissism is a direct result of the false expectations society and media instill. In no way is this work intended to be a social commentary, rather a close look into the minds and bodies of the majority of us-- a different personal perspective in the mirrors of ourselves. Without idealizing the subjects, or robbing them of their fleshy character, I seek to convey an aesthetic uncertainty in their beauty. By giving the images somewhat of an aged look, I emphasize the contrast between the subjects, their flaws, and their projected self. The tension between the ideal and the real is left to the viewer to resolve.
The writings of Lacan and Deleuze have greatly influenced this work, so far. Lacan, for his insight about narcissism and body image, and Deleuze’s, A Thousand Plateaus investigation of the rhizome and how everything is connected. The body, and the photograph of the body, as an object, relates strongly to Deleuze’s analogy of the map and the tracing.