Artistic Process – One Instance

I mentioned in several posts [1], [2], [3] that I took classes at the International Center of Photography to further my goal of a photography project about my older brother. Mike is not verbal, autistic and very low functioning.  I also had the good fortune of being included in a class sponsored by a friend of mine. I still have notes from the class, but my specific recollections are hazy. Part of this may have to do with the fact that I was the only male admitted to this class, and Arlene Raven, a major figure in the Feminist Art Movement, was the instructor. I was a little self-conscious.

Mechanics of the class

As I remember the process, each student chatted with another member of the class about her work; the other person would transcribe the chat. Then the partners would reverse roles. The sessions were timed. This was repeated until every member of the class spoke with each other. From looking at my notes, speaking with different people enabled monologues with slightly different emphases. The most important facets of our work would be repeated in every conversation.

Since my recall of this writing class was blurry, I can only rely on the notes I have in my ‘Arlene Raven Workshop’ folder. In this folder I found: 1) Conversations transcribed by the other class members; 2) a document noting the ‘threads’ of my project; 3) a document describing categories within my project

Conversations

Too detailed to delve into here.

Threads

The themes that arose in my project are as follows:

No Familiarity….……….………………………Familiarity

Harsh……………….…………….………………..Accepting

Unbalanced…….….….……………………………Realistic

Clinical………….…….…….……….………………Personal

Isolation……….…………..……………..Communication

Rejection……..….………..…….……………….Acceptance

I consider these threads to be the arcs that my narrative should follow.

Categories: Mike/Me; Communication; Photography; Memory

Mike or Me:  One of the major categories in defining the project was: Is the story about Mike or is it about me? I made several notes about this point: 1) The project is about my brother but I didn’t know who he was; 2) My project is about my brother and me; 3) Don’t really know what it is about; 4) Self indulgence. Maybe that’s where it starts.

Communication: 1) In Mike’s presence: inattention, nothing verbal; 2) No telling whether there’s a presence behind his face; 3) He is behind a wall, unreachable; 4) Is communication possible?

Photography: 1) A photograph is proof that something really happened; 2) Camera proves that a situation is what it seems; 3) But it depends on which moment you capture. That’s why photos don’t always tell the truth; 4) A photograph can make sense out of things; 5) Using a medium that doesn’t always tell the truth to try to prove something. It’s silly in a way.

Memory: 1) I don’t always remember correctly: Childhood was not particularly happy but I see myself looking happy in some photos; 2) Fascination/aversion with the past; 3) Always drawn to the past in hope of finding something I missed; 4) Bring past to bear on the present; difficult to organize.

The take-away

Arlene’s workshop was challenging and thought provoking. I found, that the process she used in her class helped me to progress in my work. I developed a clearer understanding of the arcs of my narrative; identified the essence of what I wanted to say; and identified some the tools at my disposal (memory, photography and organization) that could help me tell my story.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: