Date of Award

Fall 1-5-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Departments/Programs

Art

First Advisor

AK Burns

Second Advisor

Susan Crile

Academic Program Adviser

Susan Crile

Abstract

The Losses, The Heartbreaks, The Hungers… is a photographic body of work in which I engage in a conversation with myself on mental health and self-compassion. I am able to exist with myself within the same frame through the use of compositing techniques that depict a multiplicity of selves. In the work, I dwell in an isolated, psychological space that is constructed through a claustrophobic framing of the camera and black and white film imagery that accentuates the shadows and the light. The interactions with myself are of mixed nature: at times I am abusive to myself, but other times I show care for myself.

Through the exploration of self through the multiples, I’m able to expand on the notion of self-portraiture and scrutinize homosocial relationships, as my body begins to become a placeholder for an “other.” Through interactions with myself, I complicate the power dynamic. In a photograph, two bodies face each other while in bed: one is pinned down by the other, but the one on top is being gagged by the camera’s remote control, which is also in the one on the bottom’s hand. This body of work rejects the binary notion of heterosocial power dynamics that are mapped onto homosocial relationships; i.e. those roles that are labeled as dominant and as submissive.

All in all, the work explores agency from a subjugated position of depression and othering from within queer communities. I use my self-portraits as a tool for catharsis, as a way of dealing with my own mental health issues. Following Ann Cvetkovich's proposal on depression as an opportunity for reexamination and change, my work crafts a queer space that accounts for depression and shame as an entry into discussions about contemporary queer culture and homosexual relationships. Ultimately, through these personal works I hope to connect with the viewer, and generate a conversation and sharing of experiences.

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