I've been writing for my thesis for past weeks. Following text is a diary-like contemplation of my photo Mirror.
Mirror, 2011, 80 cm x 97 cm, pigment print on aluminum, ed. 5 + II AP
Mirror was taken approximately one year ago. I asked two of my friends who had a very similar presence with each other to model. I was studying at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris as an exchange student and there I met those girls who were both Canadien.
Both of those girls had a young careless spirit in them which I loved very much. They were interested in being models. I asked them to wear something similar- matching jackets that I had seen both of them wear earlier. Their hair is also very much alike- they really were sort of twins.
I spent a lot of time with them both then. I had seen them together many times and knew how they behaved. Taking photos of them was really pleasant. It’s always a bit exciting the first time. To get two people to concentrate on each other in a presence of a camera is challenging always. Certain amount of giggles were involved.
The scene was ”Ecole des Beaux Arts” in Paris, the Academy of Fine Arts. The school is a labyrinth-like old building with many characteristic elements of Paris – elements that define Paris to many, I can imagine. The white old marble and statues from the romantic era.. But it was a really good environment for photoshoots because of its many corridors and stairways and big windows that give a lot of light.
Parisian light is another thing, words like paintinglike misty morning could maybe vaguely resemble its nature but.. There are no words for it. Not my words at least.
I found a door from the school- a door leading to artists studios. Both of the girls are artists- so it was their place. Their home. I guess artschools are very important to young artists and the collaboration between the students is crucial in finding your own way too. So in front of this door I planted the girls. Notice the black and white t-shirts girls are wearing- a change of colours that I like when trying to show the complementary sides of two- very banal but still effective. You can use it without too much frowning- I think every photo should have something not so perfect- then it breaks the illusion maybe and brings it to life. To a tuesday morning when you’re taking a busride to work and you are late and sky is grey and the person sitting next to you is carrying too much stuff and the person in front of you doesn’t have hair or teeth. And you wonder what happened and then you wonder why did you take this job anyway. And then you notice the little kid who’s too shy to look you in the eyes and then you realize she’s like you and then you forget everything as the bus arrives to your stop and you can’t get out because the woman next to you has too many bags. And you curse the day they invented ladies with many bags.
Two girls are looking at each other in the photo- or it appears so. The other one is hidden- she seems to be in a mirror. The other girl is gently leaning on the wall. They both have a little smile- so slight it almost disappears into thin air. Looks like there is only one person- not two- effect that I like to search in my photos. The merging of two people into one. The moments spent that you see only one when there is actually two. I want to make this really visible- try to make the lines of two people into one. Show how you seek yourself from the other one. How you become the other one. How your identity changes with the other one. How you transform to the other, how you don’t even see the change before it already happened. I look for the relationship that binds us together. Where you find the cover, the protection, the shelter..
In this photo it is important. Mirrors are interesting to me with this idea. There’s a kind of simple joke in this photo too- the fact it is taken in Paris to this theme. The subject that exceeds all measurements of clichés ever. But you can not tell much by looking at the photo of romanticism of Paris. And I don’t seek couples per se, just idea of two.
Mirrors, especially going through them have been popular theme with surrealists and others too. Lewis Carroll with Through the Looking-Glass is a great example of this. Mirrors are those dreams that enhance our own world, coexist with it. Mirror is also important part of forming identity- as is camera. With both you form an image of you. And both do not show you as you really are. Camera often hides expressions and mirror always shows only mirror-image. Something not true. You want it to lie. The negative feelings that you never want to see you don’t show in photos or to the mirror.
Mirror is different from camera though. With mirror you (like the girl in my photo) always expect something when you look at it. There is an intention and a way to look. When you look at something that you think it is a mirror and it is not- you have a moment of disorientation..
So the effects of my photo. The girl has someone other than herself with her. But do they really encounter- look each other in the eyes? You can not tell from the photo. Camera doesn’t show it. What looks like it might be a lie. And is it necessary to know there are two girls instead of one? This fact maybe comes to the viewer as quickly as the fact when you realize you are not looking in the mirror when you thought you were.
Do they ever encounter? The space they are in, is it the same? Or different dimension.
What is necessary is the attention of the viewer- the things that can be found from the photo if you just look. What you think you are looking might be really different. When you look in the mirror but you really were just looking for a photo.
Edit. I never like to use the word ” to shoot” when I talk about taking photos so I try to avoid that. Not because of the meaning of shooting, for some other unconscious reason.