i am your mirror
| Photography project | Film photography | Black and white |
Being a photographer is like having a pass to capture other people’s secrets and especially of ourselves.
“When we take a photograph we choose a portion of the world that already belongs to us and it is read through the filter of what each of us is. In other words, we can say that we take a photograph when we meet and recognize ourselves.” (Cit. Nino Migliori).
My idea for i am your mirror is to photograph twelve strangers met on the Internet, including me. These unpaid strangers have chosen a time of day and a place to be photographed to freely express themselves, preferring to remain anonymous or not. I decided to abandon control of a vital element of photography by working only with natural light and I took photographs only with analogic cameras.
With some of them, empathically connecting wasn’t easy: some didn’t go beyond our initial meeting or email exchange; others never made it to the scheduled appointment. I asked to the strangers to look at my camera as if it were a mirror and then write a few words - something that could represent them.
Their vulnerability unveils fears, sexual fantasies, obsessions and secrets; giving voice to the frustrations of oppression from family, society and religion – and revealing dissatisfaction, sacrifice, and, throughout, the idea of conforming to that which we are not.
We may grow up suppressing our feelings, or taking on roles to protect ourselves. If, through habit, we forget that we play roles, then we forget ourselves: we forget that we ‘are’.
This project is deeply personal. After years of damaging experiences, I needed to re-discover myself: to be authentic, rather than being what I imagined others wanted to see.
Reflecting now, my experiences have led me – after more than a year – to realise that the things I was looking for were confidence, courage, passion, respect, connection, sex, imagination, playfulness, my soul and – above all – love.
i am your mirror reflects both the image and concept that ‘I am you and you are me’. It is energy and therapeutic release.
The photographic process is based on trust, in the short time spent looking through the camera (or mirror), whilst beginning to get to know each other. With photography, we can unlock doors – but, as by looking into a mirror, we can also disturb ourselves.
Do we really like what we see?
Abdul, like Jane Fonda ...
I want you to take pictures of me in my ballet gear, and my colourful dance aerobic wear, like the women in the 80s use to wear, like Jane Fonda. You know, the hot and sexy looking thong colourful leotard, thong dance pants and lovely legs warmer! I could even dress up in pink ballet leotards and tights, and wear pink pointe shoes, and do pointe work, balancing on the toes of my pointees shoes, like a ballerina, and dance and prance and jump in the air, and land on my toes, like a ballerina would!
You will like my ideas so much, you will want me to do it, and take pictures of me, in my lovely leotard and sexy tights.
James, the businessman
In Japanese culture there is a term, Otaku, which describes an obsessive interest an individual has outside of their “normal” professional life. Otaku is particularly prevalent amongst Japanese businessmen, who commonly work for the same employer for their entire career and have little chance to otherwise express their Identity.
This constraint imposed by a professional obligation to look and act in a certain manner is reflected in my obsession, Shibari.
Simply meaning ‘to tie’, Shibari is a form of artistic rope work that illustrates the sense of powerlessness felt by the constraints of the professional world in which I must live.
Robert, the Christian
As you can see I haven’t got the perfect svelte body. When I was 12y/o, I had to be circumcised for medical reasons, which led me to be severely bullied by the people in my class at school. My form tutor was a refugee who had escaped from Nazi Germany just before the war started and yet she never even noticed the bullying going on and the harm being done to someone in her charge.
It was mainly the girls in the class who did the bullying: just at the time that I was starting to notice girls.
This led me to think that I was no good and too ugly to have a girlfriend. Thankfully I now have a lovely wife, who reassures me.
I was bullied at University by a bunch of idiots, and then later by a succession of bosses who were far less talented than me.
Recently I decided I needed to do something radical, to tell the memories of those times when I was bullied where to go. You can either like me or clear off. I am Christian, and it is good to see the human form as God made us, and as a piece of Art.
John, the prisoner
I am John and I am a simple person. The only things you wish to have, when you get out from a prison, are two: food and sex.
They are very simple and basic needs but believe me, the desire for food and sex represents the only ‘human nature’. We run in life like crazy slaves, looking for something. We all, are looking for something but most of the times we focusing on the wrong things, the materialistic side of life, and in this way we feel more prisoners than those ones who really are in the prison, how I was.
‘Nothing, everything, anything, something’. If you have nothing, then you have everything, because you have the freedom to do anything, without the fear of losing something. I know that Now.
Roberto, the Brazilian model
I am very passionate about what I do, I give myself like an object to please the viewer. Photographers can use me as they like.
This is my work, my life. It is a job that brought me in different places and made me work for few fashion brands, both in Italy and Brazil. Also I did a couple of TV’s advertising campaigns in Brazil and here in London.
Now I am here, trapped in this picture, with the white balloons on my head and with you looking at me. You can hate me or like me but now at 28 years old, I feel tired and I decided to bring this adventure to conclusion at the end of this year.
Sean, the underground worker
I choose the clothes by myself and I did as some days I do. I have a very feminine side which is part of me and I know deeply in my heart I can carry the clothes very well. I especially liked the contrast between the dress thing and the army boots.
I would not normally wear stuff like that out but I trust the photographer and why not. We moved outside for the light.
We went to Clissold park, opposite where I live. it was too sunny at some point. It was almost midday, so hot.
My room was too small, dark and untidy, it was impossible to take pictures there. My feminine side is very strong some days and I think to deny it would probably do me harm. My girly days I don’t really control and the days I feel like a woman I tend to be up beat.
Toni, the artist
Since I was a child I spent all my time dancing and singing and jumping everywhere. People get crazy of me, now.
I do my best, I never stopped. If I stop I am a dead person. The stage is my life. Modelling is my passion. It is something that I just love to do. When I am modeling it makes me feel worthy because i am on the other side of the lens, I feel good, tall, intelligent, happy, wonderful. It is the most amazing experience for me.
I feel as I am a very creative creature.I feel like a famous artist. On the contrary, when I am not behind the lens I feel discouraged. I feel sad, I am nothing. Sometime I feel less than nothing. I actually feel like crap when there is not camera pointed at me. Once there is a camera in front of me I feel as if I am worth pointing the camera at and i don't want to disappoint anybody so I try really hard to be.I felt awesome to be photographed by this stranger.
Stephen, the carpenter
I have to say that the only time I look in the mirror is when I shave myself and ... even then, in that moment, it is a broken mirror ...
Because it was blown onto the floor, one day, by the intense wind that came through an open window.
It is that wind which saved me from my vanity. So I have been saved!
I no longer look at the centre of the Universe, because I no longer have a mirror in my house in which I can reflect my image.
It is a broken mirror and, personally, I like that very much …
Giorgia, the poetess
Creaking of steps
Justified by an instrument
Sense of the meeting
Research and exploration
Of the Place
An open Window,
Lords of uncertainty
My body goes outside of ordinary life
Crystallized, scared, immolated
By an external eye
That wants to catch and change me
I float in an ocean of possibilities
I reborn with a new, small awareness
Few and confusing words to describe an
Extraordinary normal experience
In those moments, I step outside the ordinary
of every day life feeling a higher and elusive sense
I immerse in Myself as in a womb
where everything is muffle,
a quiet illusion
like the bottom of an ocean
Art is an inner necessity because leads me
beyond the borders, an exploration of myself
and of others that plays musical notes of Divine
Yasemin, Umit and their child, the family
The title of coward is thrown around accusingly
Yet one could debate this lie instantly
On one hand you choose to live,
A choice that come easily
As opposed to suicide, that requires bravery
You claim endurance to battle on with life,
Overlooking the human instinct to survive
In contrast though, you refuse to acknowledge
The battle against this instinct
And the constant plague of rationality
Add to that insecurity,
That comes with doubting eternity
Ending it all is not insanity,
Instead an escape plea
It’s granted that at some point
Every person tries to flee
But depression and pain
Does not listen to mediocrity
Faith becomes irrelevant as we all suffer equally
Yet when threatened with hell,
I fail in finding the sea of mercy
It is my wish for no one to misunderstand me
It is not God I blame, rather human cruelty
To find proof, all you need to do
Is look back at history
This manmade jungle,
Deprives us of our humanity
Why would I choose to live,
While all mankind brings is calamity.