When one is constantly batteling death or other destructive forces, it all seems very transient and it can be very easy to experience happiness, for every sign of life appears extremely beautiful and spectacular.
Photographs that try to represent that place of experiencing light (after darkness), are often done in the form of portrait, as if the face of an individual, and all the traces engraved in it, could tell the story. But maybe it can’t. Recovery is also about light and, in that sense, it can be closer to a singular, abstract, experience, than to a classical genre. Portraits are never too old, but I feel they do insist on relativism, meaning: on leveling the importance of things. However, that feeling of being alive, even if for a few seconds, is intrinsically out of the ordinary, so why make it mundane?
When Baudrillard draws from Disneyland to elaborate on simulacra, he hopes to make his readers understand how fantasies work: “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real […] It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology) but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus saving the reality principle.” When our rationale gives in to enthusiasm and the pleasure principle gets unbalanced, we’re pretty much easy targets, fascinated by whatever wakes up one’s primordial feelings of satisfaction.
Experiencing that singular feeling of recovery or being reborn acts in a similar way. As I see it, the magnitude of what is experienced is only brought down precisely by the notion that it is unreal, thus legitimating the verity of what one experiences as real, that is often less exciting. This brings about an idea of depression, even if our daily lives, in their quietude, are all the more real and revealing. Photography is, in this sense, a simulacra that guarantees the permanence of a state of depression, for it points out what should be understood as fiction and more often than not, that separation is not solid enough to confirm the authenticity of our lives. Photography shows us things we couldn’t otherwise see, so it grants us visions we’ve once experienced, thus granting us a false notion of reality, which is necessary for us to keep existing as beings that are at once lost and found each day.
Cig Harvey‘s project You an Orchestra You a Bomb is very different from the first photographs I remember from her. They used to be (too) theatrical, but her art has matured and her photographs now reveal that experience of light and life I was talking about. Aline Smithson, from Lenscratch remarks that some years ago Cig suffered a car accident that changed her entire perception on things. Aline then states: “When I look at these photographs, they remind me of when my children were first born and I looked at the world with heightened emotions that straddled joy and sorrow, compassion and protection, and felt a deep connection to the human condition.”
About the project, the author states the following: “You an Orchestra You a Bomb looks at my relationship with life itself. It is work about the future, about paying attention to the fragile present. It makes icons of the everyday and looks at life on the threshold between magic and disaster.“