Posts Tagged: Self-Portraits

Wisława Szymborska

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Trudne życie z pamięcią

Jestem złą publicznością dla swojej pamięci.
Chce, żebym bezustannie słuchała jej głosu,
a ja się wiercę, chrząkam,
słucham i nie słucham,
wychodzę, wracam i znowu wychodzę.

Chce mi bez reszty zająć uwagę i czas.
Kiedy śpię, przychodzi jej to łatwo.
W dzień bywa różnie, i ma o to żal.

Podsuwa mi gorliwie dawne listy, zdjęcia,
porusza wydarzenia ważne i nieważne,
przywraca wzrok na prześlepione widoki,
zaludnia je moimi umarłymi.

W jej opowieściach jestem zawsze młodsza.
To miłe, tylko po co bez przerwy ten wątek.
Każde lustro ma dla mnie inne wiadomości.

Gniewa się, kiedy wzruszam ramionami.
Mściwie wtedy wywleka wszystkie moje błędy,
ciężkie, a potem lekko zapomniane.
Patrzy mi w oczy, czeka, co ja na to.
W końcu pociesza, że mogło być gorzej.

Chce, żebym żyła już tylko dla niej i z nią.
Najlepiej w ciemnym, zamkniętym pokoju,
a u mnie ciągle w planach słońce teraźniejsze,
obłoki aktualne, drogi na bieżąco.

Czasami mam jej towarzystwa dosyć.
Proponuję rozstanie. Od dzisiaj na zawsze.
Wówczas uśmiecha się z politowaniem,
bo wie, że byłby to wyrok i na mnie.

Wisława Szymborska

Hard Life with Memory

I’m a poor audience for my memory.
She wants me to attend her voice non-stop,
but I fidget, fuss,
listen and don’t,
step out, come back then leave again.

She wants to take up all my time and attention.
She’s got no problem when I sleep.
The day’s a different matter, which upsets her.

She thrust old letters, snapshots at me eagerly
stirs up events both important and un-,
turns my eyes to overlooked views,
peoples them with my dead.

In her stories I’m always younger.
Which is nice, but why always the same story.
Every mirror holds different news for me.

She gets angry when I shrug my shoulders.
And takes revenge by hauling out old errors,
weighty, but easily forgotten.
Looks into my eyes, checks my reaction.
Then comforts me, it could be worse.

She wants me to live only for her and with her.
ideally in a dark, locked room,
but my plans still feature today’s sun,
clouds in progress, current roads.

At times I get fed up with her.
I suggest a separation. From now to eternity.
Then she smiles at me with pity,
since she knows it would be the end of me too.

translation Clare Kavanah

Exhibition 2015 – Reflections

I approached the theme of the exhibition in three different ways:
A reflection on passing from Life to Death as both my parents died this summer
A question : Was the naming of the planets a reflection of man’s observation of himself, or does each man/woman reflect all the planets?
Looking for reflections of light and objects, I also found a reflection of a dream I had had ten years previously.


Reflection on passing from Life to Death

Both my parents died this summer. My mother, unconscious in the last days of her life, seemed to draw from her own source but she also seemed anxious. To my eye, her hands shaped a question mark.
My father, also unconscious, held the hand we gave him with surprising force. There was a strong sense of communication, of receiving and passing on.


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Vigil as dusk is reflecting on the table

Reflecting the Planets?

Is there a set of qualities that can be described very powerfully with the name of one planet?
Could I make ten self-portraits, one to reflect each of the planets?

Click on the cover to see a preview (the photos are a little distorted)


Too desirable Madam? or HRO IN(2015)

More than ten years ago, I had a dream in which my family was robbing a bank, looking for a treasure in underground passages; it felt half-heroic, half-dishonest. A man stood up and died. Then a young woman and I had to hide in a flat and as we were trying to enter unnoticed a small crowd was looking at a yellow sports car. As I was describing this dream in the following days, I was asked what that yellow sports car could represent. More than one idea came to mind. After this dream whenever I saw a yellow sports car I was reminded of the dream and thought of a more showy, more visible part of me, and why not?
In May 2015, I had to collect my passport from South Kensington and saw this car in a showroom window. As I was trying to photograph it without my reflection the woman on the photograph said goodbye to the man and turned; she must have seen me and this was her reaction.
It is only when I was working on printing it that my friend Peter commented on the number plate. The name of the showroom is
H.R. Owen but of course it could be heroin or heroine.


Next Exhibition : Reflections

The next exhibition of CamIris, Women Photography Group will be in Michaelhouse, Cambridge between the 5th and 18th October.
The subject is REFLECTIONS and I have chosen to reflect on 10 self-portraits reflecting each set of characteristics attributed to each of the 10 Planets in astrology

Here is a preview with THE SUN, Creative Energies, Nature of Self

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to be a Woman – CamIris exhibition 2014

My first response to the theme of the exhibition was a blurb book with the story of my life. Being a woman was being me. Then I thought that was too narrow and too personal, so I looked for poems I had written which dealt with the women who had influenced me or been important to me and my role in womanly aspects of my life, motherhood, sisterhood. Later I wrote a poem specifically for the exhibition and what came to light was more a question, when do we have an idea about womanly or manly? Is it a subtle changing idea, can one be “just woman”?

No answer to this question, just images. Following a pattern similar to Paul Gauguin’s questions and title “D’où venons-nous ? Que sommes-nous ? Où allons-nous ?” (Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?).

The first picture is “what was my face like before I was born” a time when no one knew my gender, a time when I wonder what my face was like.

A page from the smaller book "To be a Woman Margot KrebsNeale"
You can see both books on the page TWO BOOKS OF POETRY AND PHOTOGRAPHY.


To the second question “Que sommes-nous?” (what are we?) the response would be “Gold and Mine (2013)” : in the foreground a cup, a vessel and in the background eyes and mystery, like the relationship between the unconscious and what we try to offer to the world. The depth mined for gold.

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Gold and Mine (2013)

A response less mysterious but not without its ambiguities is “Manly, Womanly and Me (2013)”. Behind the image of me, what image of masculinity and femininity was I given by my parents?. Mars, Venus, Saturn, Artemis, so many ways to weave the masculine and feminine.

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Manly, Womanly and Me (2013)

“Flots de Mots (2014)” is not an image, it is a river, with a source and a powerful flow, like the words pouring out in writing, in attempts to give shape to uncertainties and discoveries, answers and new questions and maybe help say something about where we are going, and that may be back to the source.

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Flots de Mots (2014)
This photograph is of THE RIVER, an installation by the artist Charles Sandison commissioned by the musée du quai Branly, is a work of spectacular video art. Immersed in a river of words that are moving, generated by a network of computers, and projected at varying rhythms and densities for the whole length of the route, visitors will encounter the names of all the peoples and geographic places represented in the museum’s collections. In this way, THE RIVER goes along with the flow of visitors as they ascend right to the source: the collections floor.
… polynésie ravenna slavonska narabat miguel puno nek papantia creuse dogon rajbari nicolas pequetzen rapa pitcalm foukhar botswana pitcairn lipez putau rachaya magdalena santa oblysy sepik san luis piedras quijarro rangamati …

Photographs of the exhibition at Atworks, October 11th and 12th

Thank you to Peter Nixon and Justyna Rostankowska


Click on the photo to see the 10 blurb books made for the exhibition

If you want to buy one of the two books I made for the exhibition, go to the page