Posted in Assignment 1 - Preparation, Coursework, Research and Reflection

Assignment One – Artist Research – Fear

The interpretation of fear is something that has been explored in many dimensions of art, for such a broad subject that encapsulates many levels it can be challenging to focus on a specific form. Whilst I have my plan of recreating the Roscharch blots through my childhood fear of trees there are many ways to go about this. I have studied the photographers below and whenever I refer it to my own practise I have highlighted my thoughts in bold.

There are the haunting photo manipulations of  Joshua Hoffine in his series ‘Basement’ where he brings to life the darkest of childhood fears by creating terrifying and disturbing evocations that have escaped the confines of a horror movie. The fact that I can’t bear to even include the photo here or look at more than one or two shows how these childhood fears still cling on to you many years later. It’s a jolt out of sense and reality. The adult sense knows images such as zombies or monsters in the mirror are not real but there is something inside of us all that only needs to see or feel something uncanny to be taken straight back to the terrified child hiding under the duvet where all things are possible, both dreams and nightmares. How could I bring this level of terror into my photography? Perhaps nightmarish faces twisted in the gargantuan tree forms, the tree branches reaching out towards my throat. Shadows reflected on my skin, embodying the fear. I notice that whilst he uses graphic images that leave nothing for the imagination, these images are shocking but the ones are that are more permeable are those that are suggestions. The silhouette of a clown against the sheet in the garden with the disillusioning bright balloons just visible. The arms creeping out from the back of the couch. 

The portrayal of fear doesn’t always have to be hypostatized so grimly, a more colourful and slightly upbeat depiction of fear, and with a focus on fighting it, is Rivane Neunschwander ‘s ‘Name of Fear’ exhibition where Neunshwander worked with school children, embodying their fears in the shape and form of cloaks which the children wore and were photographed in. They were also put in an exhibition. The manner in which they were portrayed, these cloaks hung on a rack with some on the wall resonate with me especially as the cape harks back to roots of psychoanalysis. When I suffered from OCD (which was caused by my Lymes disease as the bacteria attacked my brain)  it was the darkest time of my life, I always felt it was like a death shroud, tied around me, I was unable to escape, whenever I found the edges to hurl off it would cling to me again like an octopus coming back and consuming its prey. This is a subject I have only ever discussed with my family, it’s something that has held me in a cage and I fear to talk about it as I know the cage is in the distance but the door is still open. Perhaps now is the time to think of exploring this in an upcoming assignment, working with the landscape of OCD, with a cage, a shawl and the journey in escaping it. I never foresaw myself focusing on such dark aspects within my photography as it is something I have always been so afraid of…however, perhaps the way to escape the fear is to embrace it, objectify it and destroy it.

The Name of Fear  – Photographer – Rivane Neuenschwander

I will research this later when I work on Assignment Two, my thinking is that a cape has always been seen as a symbol of protection, of something mystical and magical, the unique trait of superheroes, fairy tale characters such as Little Red Riding Hood and fiction, Lord of the Rings feature cloaks from the elves to shield them from the enemy’s eyes.

Focusing away from photography, an unusual mixed media art exhibition by Nathan Margoni focuses on the two worlds of imagination a child inhabits, the nightmares where a child wakes up screaming from the monsters in their mind to the day time where these monsters came to life but in a different way, manifested in their childhood games. Comprised of nightmarish large scale sculptures and paintings of deformed monsters, mechnaical gnashing teeth, fleeing victims, a pustulated giant foot all brought to life with a glue gun, human hair, every detail seethes with an unsettling clamour of fear mixed with fascination and obsession with mortality. Margoni features himself both as the monster and the victim, he is the hunter and the prey enhancing the situation of childhood imagination.

“In darkness we feared demons, in light we wore their faces to make friends scream with giddiness.” 

Children, or grown up children, are able to take the reins and become the monsters, seeing through their eyes through a distorted fish eye view as their teeth chomp at broken dolls. The art piece enables you to use levers to open and close the creatures mouth. The artist, Margoni, features himself as the fleeing victim as in the piece ‘Oh no, Run for your life’ a gigantic repulsive foot mashed with the faces of squashed victims and debris is poised above the diminuitve Margoni. You can live as both the victim and the monster. It feels almost Lord of the Flies esque experiencing terror and rage, fear and hate, helplessness and brutality. It is unsettling to say the least.

Joe Rondone / H-P Staff

Vincent Bousserez’s pictures carry that unsettling and familiar feeling of lying awake at night as shadows were manifested as monsters and ghosts hiding in your room, creeping around the bed as you slept and seeping into your dreams transforming them into paralysising nightmares. Bousserez’s inspiration came from visiting an old house in the country, he had the parents walking around to create the disturbing shadows. The fear reflected in the childrens eyes takes you back to the time. It is something that almost everyone on the planet has once shared. Fear. I love the use of shadows to create the unsettling effect, going back to my earlier thinking of the tree shadows and silhouettes across the skin. I am loathe to create an exact depiction of my fear, I want it to be more abstract, I want viewers to find their own depictions of their lives in my work. Everyone has something that scares us and when faced with something unsettling it has an inherent and inevitable way of being incarnated into the real world. 

Photographer – Vincent Bousserez

The more I study fear the more I want to show the many levels there are, how I may have once been scared of the shapes of trees in the night or scraping down the window, how I feel no such fear anymore, how it has come circle.