Once I started my photo project about my brother Michael, I brought it to each class I took.
One of my first photography classes was with Nubar Alexanian at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City. The first day was a review of everyone’s work. This is one of the pictures I presented:
Nubar then made an assessment and gave each of us an individual assignment. I wish I could remember what he told me to do. I believe I ended up combining his suggestion to see Michael in different situations, with another artist/psychologist’s suggestion to try assuming the identity of the person whom one wishes to understand. (By the way, if anyone recalls anything remotely approaching the latter technique, I’d love to hear from you.)
Below is the portrait I took of myself in my attempt to better understand my brother. This wasn’t what Nubar had in mind.
I missed the mark. I didn’t understand him any better.
However, I discovered something in the process of writing this post. the series of images to the right combine my image with my brother’s. Instead of gaining understanding or insight by acting looking like my brother, I look at these images as if I were in a photo booth. Perhaps this is how Michael’s housemates and staff actually saw me, since some of them told me I looked exactly like Michael.