What can a psychological wound look like when expressed in art? What can this art reveal about our soul, and the pathway toward healing?
This week I share the photographs from my Wound/Deform series. I already shared most of these photos in a previous post, however I didn’t share all of them, and I wanted to take the opportunity to present the series here in full and to discuss it a little bit further.
These photos were shot on 120mm film with a Holga camera, developed, and scanned. I then added additional digital manipulations. When I originally got the idea for these photos, I had imagined doing something like printing the photos on wax, perhaps, and then melting the surface of the photos, or burning, scraping, and otherwise manipulating it to achieve the look of deformed and mutilated bodies. In the end, a combination of digital and analog techniques was what allowed me to achieve the results I sought.
The use of the analog Holga camera, which is a toy camera that has a plastic lens, already gave the images a certain distortion that I always love working with, but which was particularly apt here. The camera is known for the light leaks and vignetting that commonly occur in the images it makes, and for the relative lack of control the photographer has over the final look of the photos. I enjoy and embrace this lack of control.
The further distortions which I added digitally post-scanning allowed me to further express the themes of this series. These images are an expression of trauma, abuse, and the emotional wounds we suffer during our lifetimes. The feeling of being manipulated emotionally, and of losing one’s sense of self, is expressed physically in these images. flesh is mixed and melted like one’s mind is mixed up in an abusive or codependent relationship. Faces are erased like one’s self is erased by an abuser/manipulator. Bodies start to melt and take on a look like metamorphic rock, wood grain, or non-human animals/insects, causing us to question our reality and sense of self. Stomachs are disemboweled, expressing the sick feeling in one's gut like the spiritual sickness that one is experiencing, or in a self-loathing harakiri, as one has become so dishonored by what has happened to oneself that one can no longer carry on. The subjects become moldable, like clay, like a person’s mind and body become objects moldable by their abuser. The mouths are ripped or smeared or smudged off, meaning the subjects have no means of crying out for help or expressing their pain. It is the feeling of suffering silently, the feeling of being alone with no one to help. All they can do is contort themselves into grotesque shapes and stare plaintively from a blankness where eyes should be.
On the pathway of healing, we ourselves are ultimately responsible for our own healing. Others may have treated us harmfully and we may have had experiences that we did not know how to handle at the time, and we suffered as a result, but we were doing our best, and when we bring the eye of our own awareness and wisdom to these painful experiences, we are able to gain insight and to choose a new pathway. Others may have hurt us, but we can learn how to have healthy boundaries and to no longer allow this. With practice, we can be free and safe even among dangerous people because we have a secure sense of self and of our boundaries. Healthy boundaries are the key to greater compassion for self and others. When we have proper boundaries, more of our energy can go toward helping others, and we can feel true compassion towards others because we are solidly grounded in self love and our sense of self. When we know our true worth, we are able to extend ourselves to others rather than having to constantly shield and protect ourselves.
Let me know how these photos affected you in the comments below. They may well resonate in different ways with you. I’d love to know what you feel and think.
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