MY OWN WITNESS:RUPTURE AND REPAIR
I am a lens-based artist and trauma psychologist/psychoanalyst. Both of my practices are motivated by my disquiet over social and environmental injustices and my desire to affect change. I engage my sitters (volunteers and not my patients), in a deep process of finding their way to summon their acts of witnessing, even as they make witnesses of the spectators of these photos. In this series of physically altered portraits, the "practices" of the consulting room merged with the "art" of photography, co-creating images that compel and insist that the imagined viewers/spectators connect with the gazes of my sitters.
These are dark and broken times. In the future, mending will occur, but we will be marked and scarred by the injuries to our democracy, planet, and mental health.
Wehave and will continue to confront the inhumanity and injusticetowards those who have been deemed invisible and unentitled to their subjectivity through race, sexuality, gender identity, age, ethnicity, and/or disability. We acknowledge and pay attention to our violent past in the future, so we don't repeat it. These injuries are our losses to be witnessed, mourned, and transformed into change.
I tear archival pigment photographs to create wounds of our individual and collective suffering and subsequently heal them. I back the rips with golden rice paper and patch them up with haphazard stitches of golden thread. Inspired by the Japanese practice of kintsugi, an ancient craft that repairs broken pottery with gold lacquer, the areas of damage are illuminated and not covered over.
Metaphorically, kintsugi honors the acceptance of injury as part of the object's life and gives material form to the history of experience.
Through pose, gesture, gaze, and occasional props, my portrait sitters find their narratives, restore some agency, and invite others to experience them in their full humanity. While the American flag has become a complicated symbol, some sitters reclaimed and reimagined it to express their defiance and respectful hope for the return of democracy. As a series, the shared black velvet background and chiaroscuro lighting join each individual to the collective.
“My name is Devyn and I am a Latino trans man living my truth. I am proud of my gender identity and am grateful for all the amazing and supportive people I've met and been able to work with because of my visibility. I choose to be visible for various reasons, one of the main reasons being that I want other trans folks, especially trans youth, who are struggling with their gender identity to know that they are not alone and can be their true selves - even though our current political climate is trying to take away our basic human rights and protections. I want America to see that we are all just human beings and deserve to be treated with the same kindness and respect as our fellow straight humans.”