After a prolonged period of suspended animation, I finally feel like some of the barriers I have been running into are surmountable.
I have made the decision to completely abandon the Nomadic Community Gardens as a subject for my BoW. This was a big thing as I had put a year’s worth of work into the NCG but I had to face up to the fact that I am still grieving for the place itself and the community I had become part of there. I was feeling sad – stuck and depressed actually – every time I looked at the images I made. Had there not been the overlay of the Covid crisis, I could possibly have channeled that grief into the project and made something special but it has just been too upsetting and has not felt right.
How was this momentous decision marked? By me changing the header image on my blog. A small thing but I can feel already that it has made a difference to my emotional well-being. With hindsight I can now see that every time I logged onto WordPress to write something over the last few months, seeing the header image was crushing me. I’ve found it really hard to complete any blogs (I currently have 16 drafts on the go!).
Next, I approached some other Level 3 photography students to form a small support group. Thankfully the response was enthusiastic as it seems it is not uncommon to feel somewhat adrift during this stage of the degree, exacerbated by the realities of distance learning. Again, I can already tell that this is important and will make a difference to how I am feeling about everything.
My third breakthrough is that I have got closer to developing my hypotheses for my extended written project. I am still keen to explore hauntology and how it relates to photography but I was in a frustrating spiral caused by three issues. Firstly, Derrida’s Specters of Marx is essential to any discussion about hauntology and I have really struggled with it. I actually feel a bit sick every time I look at the book on the shelf. The truth is: I am never going to understand every word but if I accept that and just work on gleaning as much as I need for my own purposes, this theme could still be possible. My second issue was that there seems to be a paucity of existing research/writing about hauntology as it relates to photography out there. This worries me partly as I feel like I might be barking up completely the wrong tree and also because it was making the idea of a lit review even more daunting than it should be. Thirdly, I had been thinking that my BoW could (should?) have a hauntological aesthetic to it. I have realised now that would feel forced and inauthentic. So scrap that. The hypotheses still need some work and I will probably need to go back to the drawing board on my reading list but this seems like a positive move forward.
I am pretty sure that my EWP research can still very much inform my BoW and vice versa but giving myself some flexibility at this point is crucial to be able to break out of my CS vicious circle and actually make some progress.
My final breakthrough – not that these things happened in a linear way – was that I think I can see some hopeful ways forward with my image making . I had been worrying that the more abstract macro work I have making since lockdown was devoid of any meaning but – of course – it isn’t. There is always meaning. I just need to wrestle it out into the open. And – of course – I am not restricted to only what I can see before me within the perimeters of our property, even if we continue to shield for many more months. Part of my BoW exploration, in fact, will need to be around what do I bring in from the outside world to include in my work and how will I do that? As visual art is often about problem solving, I am unlikely to be able to do that by just thinking thinking thinking all the time. I need to get on and make stuff. I’ve been worried that pivoting to a completely new idea and going back to the drawing board meant that I can not make any more missteps but OF COURSE I CAN. That is part of the process and all part of the fun.
So this weekend has been a tipping point and I feel like some of the stress has lifted and conundrums are being resolved. Andra tutto bene.