Patrick Bienert

East End of Europe


Photographs · Courtesy of Patrick Bienert

Chantal Elisabeth Ariëns

“It is in the nature of the mind to make something out of nothing, so an empty state allows the mind to rest and opens doors at the same time.”

It might have taken Chantal Elisabeth Ariëns ages to pull herself out of the state of chaos and into the utopia of emptiness, but such a transition defines what she produces today, from photographs to prints. Relieving certain emotions to provoke certain memories ushers the multidisciplinary artist into conjuring her most reflective essence, giving a home to the works of art she treasures the most.

From her reverence for water as a distilling element of life to the reminiscence of her sister’s youthful time, Ariens personifies the glory of existence: the stillness in dancing, the melancholy in capturing the relics of a passing, the times when realizations ask her to carry on.

I would love to learn more about your career transition. You first worked as a dancer, having studied at a ballet academy in Tilburg. You also modeled and assisted photographers. Why did you switch to photography? When did you realize it was time for you to hold the camera yourself?

I grew up with classical ballet and studied at the ballet academy, so my whole life was surrounded by ballet. But

“my dream to dance in a company like the NYC ballet fell apart.”

I started to look for something that could replace my passion for ballet. This was the quest. For a period, I started working as a model, where I got inspired by photographers I worked with and started to assist some photographers.

I am also a print-maker. I felt the need to create with my own hands, to give my prints more depth. I went in search of a craft technique that would allow me to do so, and this led me to the photopolymer etching technique. I love the tactility, the structure, the scent, and countless shades of black. The work itself is very intense and slow; it brings me to a more quiet part of myself and makes me more aware of how gratifying craftsmanship can be.

Delving deeper into your photographic philosophy, how did your ballet, photo modeling, and assisting experiences help shape your photography? What nuances from these backgrounds do you use in your practice today?

Dancing had been a way to express myself since a very young age. This was replaced by my love for photography. My father was a gifted photographer and a photo teacher in addition to his day job. He taught my sister and me how to print our own photos.

“Working as a model became the second part of my photographic education.”

It was wonderful to be able to learn from so many photographers, through their own ways of creating images, especially in the fashion world. Then, my process became different after working for magazines.

I felt the need to create from within after my younger sister passed away. I had to let go of concepts or themes to find out where my journey would take me. Gradually, I realized how everything turned out to be personal, including my relationship with the models I work with. I like to create an intimate atmosphere for the models to make them feel comfortable and be themselves.

I prefer to work with models with a background in dancing as they often move freely. It is important for me to make real contact in order to create images that move. They become personal from the moment I started to create my own world from the inside.

The inspiration of your works stems from the subconscious, a state of emptiness. How do you perceive an empty state? Is it meant to be filled, or just be left their void? 

In the past, it was not easy to enter an empty state of mind overnight. It took me years to be able to let go, meditate, and practice. It is in the nature of the mind to make something out of nothing, so an empty state allows the mind to rest and opens doors at the same time. This is where it became possible for me to dig deep and create my personal work, by letting it be void with all that will come up in a natural way.

As you have written: these images arise by giving space to emotion and exploring where the connection lies between emotion and memory. Emotions and memories are stored in the subconscious. For you, what is the connection between emotion and memory? What kinds of emotions and memories do you want to evoke?

For me, memories come with certain emotions, so bringing up certain memories can evoke certain emotions. I try not to evoke these emotions as I prefer them to arise in a natural way. It is by giving space that they will find their way. For me, photography is about connecting to the landscape, the people, and myself. It is about creating my own world.

Let us go through a few of your works. Where Are You reminisces about your younger sister, a time when you saw her everywhere. Would it be all right if you guide us through your state in this series?

Where Are You #1: The image is taken by the moonlight, imagery of Taoism, and the yin energy that brings the viewer within. The feeling brought me to remember the memory of my sister drifting away.

Where Are You #4: In my dreams, I was running fast to see glimpses of my sister. When I saw a figure running, I thought it was her.

Where Are You #11: I know it is not her, but it is the vague figure that is moving towards me that makes me think it is her.

Where Are You #20: Ever-changing clouds, floating on air.

Where Are You #18: The sea, the waves, the clouds, the sun behind the clouds, the rays of light coming in. Here, there is a play between the dark and the light, the light and the dark. I was fascinated by it: it moved me in ways, it made me feel emotional, it lulled me into it, and it connected me to the ones I lost.

Unfinished #2: Here a teststrip of Marijn, I started photographing with her and still do, she became my muse.
In this image she reminds me of my sister, Nathalie.

Monologue Intérieur seems to be a photographic conversation between who you are and what you feel, an inner monologue associated with thoughts, fears, and emotions that come and go. Have you ever latched on a single emotion and found it difficult to let go? 

The inner monologue is often associative. Thoughts, moods, feelings come and go. I try to catch these in order to be moved by the image. It is not only about my feelings, but my models’ as well.

Nude photography can be a complex subject to me. It is about finding the purest and most liberating expression of strong femininity. It is combined with the inner monologue, transforming the images into layers of stories.

Water as a purifying, transformative, and healing gift of life. In Healing or drowning, water becomes the symbol of existence, the power of connection, softness, surrender, and forgiveness. When do you seek healing? Is it hard to surrender yourself to the flow of the universe? How do you forgive – by forgetting?

I seek healing especially in times of grief and turbulence like the last one and a half years, where we have all gone through certain waves.

“Surrendering to the flow of the universe is a never-ending challenge.”

For me, forgiving is not about forgetting. I think it is a process that experiences ups and downs, highs and lows like waves that come and go, trying to find the angle of compassion for others. I think these bring in the softness, the healing part, for others and myself.

You quote T.S. Elliott as part of your artist’s statement. “So the darkness shall be the light. And the stillness the dancing.” How do you relate to these words?

The words refer to my own process that started with the death of my younger sister. I went through deep grief, a depressing period, trying to find the light. This is why I started my series  ‘Where Are You’ with specks of black and bright white. 

If I had to go to a deeper layer of myself, I think I would uncover stillness while finding my way out, accepting that nothing will ever stay the same and that love never dies.

What’s next for Chantal?

I’m looking forward to some wonderful collaborations in Japan, Italy and Sweden and a period as Artist In Residence to be able to do research, experiment and deepen my work.

Joselito Verschaeve

“sometimes you do not have the vocabulary to pinpoint your feelings towards a project, a place, an object, or a person”

The ambition to photograph the purity of isolation in nature infiltrates the images of Joselito Verschaeve. In his works, the fog clothes the rock formations, a hand soaks in the color of the coals, the sea laps over the grainy shore, the crescent-shaped sun ray filters through the cracks, and Joselito grips the camera in his hands. In every image, the unspoken longing to form a bond with nature, or perhaps become Mother Nature herself, tugs a wandering soul to embark on a pilgrimage with the Belgian photographer.

As one skims through the works Joselito has captured so far, they may deduce them as a meditative perception of the environment, a narrative-infested series that touches on a myriad of undefined themes with nature at the heart of his philosophy. Joselito may have just commenced his journey, but he has already left an imprint in those who gaze at his images, and now, in NR Magazine.

I would love to learn your background in photography. How did you end up taking photographs? Has this always been your first choice of medium, and why? Did you try other artistic mediums before this?

Before studying photography, I had studied 3D animation where we had to create a series of environments that were often dystopian-themed. We had to go out and create images out of worn-out objects to source our aimed textures. After a while, I realized I enjoyed image-making more and the world-building you could imply with sequencing.

Let us get into your philosophy in photography. Your work leans on day-to-day encounters. Why do you draw your photographic influences from this well? What encounters do you remark as the most significant to you, and why?

It leans on day-to-day encounters because it is the most honest way through which I can show my work. These are the moments that tend to take place in my life, but I happen to have my camera with me during these times. After these moments, the ball keeps rolling, and I can reminisce the places that I have discovered through these events, or be happy with what I got from that day. The most significant encounters I recall are the images that I captured.

You also turn to narratively driven images. Could you elaborate more on this? What kind of stories do you want to narrate through your images?

Part of my practice is the day-to-day encounters; another part is just my general fascination for dystopia, nature, history, and future events. The influences of the photographs I capture from this mindset: How can I make this newfound scene fit in these themes? I think this also forms part of my practice, just seeing if I can transform these set scenes into different ones. That is where the narration and sequencing of images come into place to tie the story together.

You have shared that you are building an archive that can fit different themes. Other than the ones already mentioned above, what other themes are you exploring? Do you have certain topics that you want to dive into soon? Why?

I would like to stay dedicated to these themes. What I do want is to narrow it down to certain topics. Now, I’m leaning towards places that see repetitions in natural events, or man-made places that withstand the test of time and nature. For me, these places come closest to my idea of dystopia where nature has the upper hand.

I want us to talk about If I Call Stones Blue, It Is Because Blue Is The Precise Word (2020 – 2021). First, how did you come up with the title? What is your relationship with it? Did you plan it, or did it pop up after the series finished?

It is from a Raymond Carver book, which echoes ‘day-to-day encounters’ in the best way. I think it categorizes under ‘honest fiction’ which sounds amazing on its own. Anyway, he uses it to write a poem, but the line is originally from Flaubert. My relationship with it is that sometimes you do not have the vocabulary to pinpoint your feelings towards a project, a place, an object, or a person. However, this does not stop you from understanding the significance of your emotions, so you compare them to the closest feeling that you do know. This is what I feel and do.

All images are black and white. Do you feel a deeper connection with this style rather than the colored ones? Is it more of a personal choice or a conscious one to tap into your audience’s emotions? 

There are a few reasons for this. Of course, the images I make share common thoughts, but the black and white style helps my images grow on each other. They may be at completely different times and places, but this variety causes interesting dialogues. To simply put it: the monochromatic style causes timelessness.

I see a lot of images deriving from nature: the uneven formations of rock, the silhouettes of forest trees, the gentle laps of the sea’s waves, and a bird trapped between the branches of trees. Does nature have a healing effect on you? Do you find it meditative? What do you think and feel whenever you place yourself in nature?

I think it is more on the idea of nature that piques my interest. It is in itself timeless and independent, which is how I would like my images to appear and be like. The balance between being comforting and intimidating is something that I admire. It is why I am so fascinated by the dynamic between nature and man-made: having the power to tear down sound and established structures versus life designs that have adapted foundations to withstand this former’s power.

What is next for Joselito?

I have an upcoming book with VOID, a publisher based in Athens. I am looking forward to this. Other than that, I will keep doing what I do and work on other projects. I have always worked on the “we will see what happens next” philosophy, so let us see what will happen next.

Stefanie Schneider

On the West, Nostalgia and Instant Dreams

Stefanie Schneider captures the Western mentality and landscapes, archetypical histories of love, flawed beauty, and how women coddle chickens through her lens. She projects the life she yearns to live, the love she hopes to embody and receive, and the lust for both from within her onto her images. The results display burned spots in print or hazy and overlapping gradients of light, the signature she created for herself and her audience. These flaws, as she dubs them, manifest a mythlike dream Stefanie imagines for herself and those around her, ushering them into a discrepancy between light and darkness in photographic styles and the human psyche.

The German photographer works on self-portraiture as she poses for most of her projects, always infusing every shot with her views on life, love, and nostalgia. As she taps into her realm, Stefanie’s flair for memories and bygone eras – plus an old ranch and a farm of chickens – unravels into instinctive and distinctive photographs that ask viewers to journey through their definition of psychedelia and existence.

I wanted to ask how you got the moniker Instant Dreams then I came across your photo book of the same title. In this compendium, you take the American West as your inspiration to tell stories that evoke ideas of masquerade and play, and of love, pain, loneliness, alienation, rediscovery, and a social commentary on America. Why were you fascinated with these themes? 

Instantdreams is simply a combination of my two primary interests: the American dream and instant film. It just came to me in 1998 when I was building my first website. The American West has wide, open spaces that give us perspective on the meaning of life. Its void is a reflection of your interpretation. Expired Polaroid film produces ‘imperfections’ that mirror the flaws of the American Dream. These imperfections also illustrate that the dream is a myth that misleads, offering unachievable goals; the dream turning into a nightmare. The disintegration of Western society. The last hurrah.

That is the canvas of my creations. In fact, it’s the rudder of my uncharted journey. The allure of America is my pursuit of self-identity through love and pain, alienation and loneliness.

In your first book, Stranger than Paradise, the description mentions: There is no script, and none is necessary – a primal tale with ordinary looking people with archetypical histories – they drink, make love in nameless hotels, stalk the desert under the blinding sun, dance and carouse, and endlessly move on. A sense of liberation surrounds these scenes. Have you lived through these situations? When do you feel the most liberated?

All of my projects originate from my personal story. I created a place for my imagination to flourish, so there are no limits to where I can go. This particular project you’re referring to is called ‘Sidewinder’ and is one of my most personal stories.  It projects the intensity of love, the pain of losing love, futile attempts to hold on to it, and the destructive acts we engage in to avoid abandonment. For me,

“there is a catharsis in creation. Art liberated me. It allowed me to create a parallel universe.”

Going through your selected projects, three bodies of work caught my attention. I want to start with Oilfields (2004). It connotes both the notion of the frontier and the adventurous mentality of the West, and a kind of horizontal understanding of the landscape that is so quintessential about the West. Would you still describe the Western mentality as such today considering that you did this project in 2004? What changes have you noticed?

The project was published in 2004. The actual shoot took place in 1999. Considering that, basically everything has changed. There was still a kind of innocence present. The internet just started. Hardly anybody used cell phones. The information traveled slower. Actual letters were still sent and received. There was more time. Pre 9/11.

The landscapes were emptier and less populated. The feeling of being alone was much greater. Climate change wasn’t omnipresent. Back then the open landscapes felt like the last frontier. The last place to disappear into; to be swallowed into your own imagination. But it felt as if we were witnessing, with our own eyes, that times were changing, that everything would break apart.

Fast forward to 2014,  you introduce Wabi-Sabi (2014) as desolation and solitude are two adjectives that I would use to describe my Polaroid photographs, another two would be the Japanese term ‘Wabi-Sabi”. The simplicity of ‘flawed beauty’ comes from the expired film I use to create a reflection of love and loneliness. Why did you use desolation and solitude as descriptions? Was that how you felt? Then, why did you combine the feeling of love with loneliness?

Love, lost love, and unrequited love are the prominent themes in my 29 Palms, CA project. The consequences of emptiness, loneliness, and absence are related to existential themes, just like expired films. Constantly changing and crumbling, the film mirrors the changes of time, almost like a premonition. The summers seared through heat waves to the cracks of the Wabi-Sabi void.

Onto the third one: Chicks and Chicks and sometimes Cocks (2016 – present). One sees women dearly hold chickens in their arms. Can you share the concept and beginnings of this project? What do you aim to convey?

I rescued an old ranch in the High Desert just over ten years ago. Since then, I have been focusing on self-sustainability, growing organic food, and raising chickens, which has been so rewarding to me. I absolutely love chickens and wanted to share their beauty. I call it my Desert Living project. It is about reconnecting our human needs back to the sources of living, back to basics; my own personal reset.

You have used expired Polaroid films to capture and emphasize the sun-drenched, nostalgic, and photographic appeal of memories. Is there a forgotten memory that you want to relive? How do memories influence your creative artistry?

Memories are the essence of life itself. They are stories, they are history, they are our identity. The ones you keep and show define what transpires. The Polaroid itself is a tangible reminder of a moment we want to remember and hold onto.

“We only have what we remember or imagine.”

Thinking about your filmic and trance-like style, how would you direct your self-portrait and want the backdrop, the approach, and the essence to be?

A picture of myself looking at myself in the mirror of some old car far out in the desert, alone and searching with desire for a love that I know exists.

My work is full of self-portraits. I am using myself as the subject a lot either because nobody else is around or because the project is so personal such as in the case of ‘Sidewinder’ or ‘Wastelands’. I can create my vision far easier and more precisely if I play the role myself. Nobody else could have felt what I felt at that moment, so I appear again and again and again.



Justine Kurland

London’s Huxley Parlour Gallery Presents ‘I Belong To This’ Curated By Photographer Justine Kurland

Curated by contemporary American photographer Justine Kurland, ‘I belong to this’ gathers a group of 17 artists to explore notions of the self, family, death, and private and communal rituals, as part of a declaration of identification, a promise of solidarity, or a blurring of self into multitudes, as inspired by Ariana Reines’s poem ‘Save the World’, after which the exhibition is titled. 

The work presented by the artists constantly refuse an emblematic or fixed identity, and instead, have repurposed their DNA into a limitless family album, resurrected ancestors, and activated psychic space to give shape to their experience. The photographs in the exhibition work collaboratively in resistance to destructive power dynamics by creating new pathways to knowledge in a pact between artist, subject, and viewer. It is through these acts of resistance that we are able to recognise ourselves both through and among others.

The artists include Genesis Báez, Jennifer Calivas, Naima Green, AK Jenkins, Sydney Mieko King, Keli Safia Maksud, Jacky Marshall, Qiana Mestrich, Shala Miller, Cheryl Mukherji, Diana Palermo, Calafia Sanchez- Touzé, Keisha Scarville, Wendy Small, Gwen Smith, Anne Vetter, Annie Hsiao-Ching Wang.

NR Magazine speaks with the featured artists about the inspirations behind their exhibition pieces.

Genesis Báez

How did growing up in both Puerto Rico and Massachusetts shape you as an artist?

It shaped who I am therefore it inherently, even if indirectly, shapes my work. Having roots in two drastically different places opened my mind up at an early age. I developed a curiosity and need to see things from different perspectives. 

You and your mother feature in your piece for the exhibition. Could you talk a bit about your relationship with her?

My mother and I feature in the piece Lifting Water. We lift a heavy glass vessel that is about to overflow with water. When I made this picture, I was thinking about transference, inheritance, and the weights that we collectively carry. My friend once said that she read the image as us removing the water between Massachusetts and Puerto Rico. I like this interpretation! My mother and I like making pictures together. I inherited a relationship to Puerto Rico from her, as she took me back there for the first time when I was three, and then throughout my life. But my work is not about her or our relationship. I also make photographs with many people, both family and extended community.

What do the concepts of motherhood and motherland mean to you and your work?

I don’t think about my work in relation to motherhood, but rather the idea of an origin or belonging, and how these are quite precarious and slippery. What if you don’t have a motherland – can’t go to it, can’t stay in it, or don’t want one? I don’t have a motherland. At times it’s been painful, and other times I don’t want one and it’s a relief! Sometimes, overidentifying with a ‘motherland’ can quickly slip into complicated nationalistic tendencies. I’m more interested in describing the watery, temporal experiences of existing between worlds. I used to yearn to have a clear, grounded origin that I could go to and say, ‘I belong to this.’ Now I lean into the watery places of my belonging. Belonging can be nuanced and certainly extends beyond geography.

Jennifer Calivas

How would you describe the relationship between body, earth and identity within your practice?

It may sound corny, but sometimes I need to be close to the earth to get grounded. In graduate school I was exposed to so much in the way of art and ideas which was wonderful in many ways, but afterwards I wanted to get back to earth so much that I literally went into it. When I am underground for one of these pictures, I can’t see what things look like, so finding out how my body looks when I develop the film is really exciting. I love to see how the earth cracks and forms around me and finding out what new forms have appeared. Seeing these new sand or mud blobs take shape helps me to mess up my own sense of self and for its boundaries to feel less rigid.

What impact did performing this self-burial have on you?

It gave me a rash! All of these pictures were made by the ocean, in the sand or on mud flats. Did you know that the rotting smell of the ocean is caused by tiny microbes doing their part to digest and ferment decaying matter? When I am buried in these pictures, I can feel my body being eaten. In my effort to be still for the photograph, I end up getting consumed. The last time I made one of these images this bacteria made my skin burn and gave my assistant’s silver jewellery a patina. I think I’ve performed my last burial where I’m stuck in the sand and now. I want to move my body around which is what I’m doing in my new work.

What sculptural influences do you take from ecology and your environment?

I grew up on the coast of Maine, spending my time climbing around the shoreline, always poking and prodding at the ground to discover things. I seem to have a limitless love and fascination for this space and by burying myself in it, I get to experience it with all my senses and feel what it’s like below the surface. When I started these pictures, I had death on my mind but realised quickly that below ground is teaming with life, which has made me think about stillness differently.

Also, I am at the mercy of the weather, tides, and light when making these images. I like having to coordinate with nature in this way. There’s not much negotiation involved; I have to follow its lead. This reminds me that I am a part of environmental processes, not separate from them.

AK Jenkins

What was it like for you creating the series ‘Grandma’s Fans’? 

It is very much an ancestral conversation that is happening, along with my own memories of what growing up in the church has instilled in me – how it has shaped, and at times shamed me. My grandparents’ home is still in our family and much of it remains intact. It’s really hard to create new memories in a space like that which has so many markers of presence, both physically and spiritually. It often leads me to enter into a conversation with things that may never be fully answered. It’s like how I still listen to older music and records – there is so much more I understand from them now that we both have more life in the world. The act of revisiting, be it an album or my grandmother’s house, is a practice that allows me to understand changes in meaning overtime. 

What attracted you to working with portraiture?

I would say that specifically, self-portraiture is at the centre of my work right now. This shift happened after I found myself conflicted with the power dynamics and even weight of ‘shooting’ people with the camera. At the same time, we all look at the plethora of images to understand our narrative in the world. I wasn’t witnessing the nuances of my own life; it was like people like me didn’t really exist in image culture. So, imaging the complexity, strength and the love of my existence became obvious and urgent. The work is not speculative, though I’m interested in exploring that moving forward, but I’d say these thoughts, moments, and places I find myself playing with are within the context of my daily life. I appreciate that portraiture gets to the core of humanness, even though people often come to the work through identity, I think really good portraiture penetrates deeper than that. I never have to say queer and Black; you see that when I image myself. But I still do have to make images that speak to conditions of love, desire, belonging and beauty.

In writing about the series, you mention that it is ‘rapt in moments of contemplation and refusal’. How do you feel this relates to your identity as an artist? 

I think it is what we try to do as artists – in making our work we are constantly wrestling with what we give, what we take or leave on the table, as we draw from our realities and imaginations.

Sydney Mieko King

Your work in the exhibition includes archival photographs of your grandmother. Could you talk a bit about your relationship with her?

My grandma lives on San Juan Island in Washington State. My parents, brother and I visited my grandparents there every summer until around 2016. My mother always said that my interest in art came from her. We used to make chalk drawings together on the cement floor of the garage while I ate Push-Ups from the freezer. One summer I was really invested in growing plants, so we tried to plant tulip bulbs near the mailbox and cared for a tomato plant together. My grandmother lived day-to-day and told us very few stories about her past. Most of the time we would watch movies and TV together or take naps on the couch. Every summer we would get into a fight, and I would spend the rest of my visit trying to make it up to her. She was tough in a way that I couldn’t handle; she had the capacity to ignore and not forgive.  

If she were my age, we would be the same size and shape. Her clothes that didn’t fit my mother I now wear. The two-piece outfits, the tie-dyed gown, the house dress that she’d put on when we drove away each summer, waving from the front steps. When I saw her this summer she faded in and out of consciousness. She still made snappy comments to me and my brother, told us we were ‘being mean to grandma’ when we joked with her at the dinner table. That was her old self, the one that loved us and pushed us away. My mother says that she is silent most days now, too tired to move.

You studied Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. Was this where you first became interested in the potential of the body to create new realities and histories?

The old photo labs at Princeton were right next to the ceramics studio, where a lot of sculpture students would make and leave behind their two-part plaster moulds. There were dozens of moulds of vases, mustard containers, wine glasses and other objects. I started photographing the objects I found there, angling the light so that the objects would appear as three-dimensional casts in my resulting images. I was fascinated by the idea that I could change my perception of objects through photography – to create an almost-tangible form when there was only the absence of one. After a while, I started making my own plaster moulds with a variety of materials, mostly to experiment with form. I would mould apples and oranges from the dining hall, blobs of foam insulation and snow procured from just outside the art building. I was fascinated by the way these objects could switch between two states, a shifting in form that I had begun to relate to my own understanding of identity and how it could be portrayed through photography.

How do you navigate the concept of identity through photography and its relationship to the body?

I view the difficulty of portraying the body through photography as a topographical one. It will always be impossible to fully translate and understand a three-dimensional body by transposing it onto a two-dimensional surface. To re-imagine the medium’s relationship to the body, I started bending my prints, later manipulating the surface of the negative to somehow empathise with or mimic the surface of what I was photographing. Thinking of the plaster mould as a form of proto-photography, I later returned to recording the surface of the body, itself.

Making moulds with plaster requires so much stillness – it is a material used for replicating sculptures for educational purposes, for creating ‘death masks’ of the recently-deceased. When I mould myself in plaster, I try to occupy positions that evoke movement and breath. A bend in the stomach, legs wrapped around each other, or the overlapping parts of the body. It becomes an exercise in trying to hold still, and the inevitability of the object falling off my body with each breath I take. The moulds become an archive of my body over time – a way to understand its shifts. Some moulds that I made a year ago no longer fit; sometimes I cannot remember how I created a particular mould and go through an exercise of ‘trying on’ old positions that my body once occupied.

Keli Safia Maksud

What aspects of your work stand out to you as declarations of identification?

The overarching theme in my practice is the politics of identity. I interrogate state narratives and how they are used to manufacture national identities. It is crucial that I give a sense of my background, as it runs hand in hand with my practice. I was born in Kenya to Tanzanian parents of Muslim and Christian faith, making me a Kenyan-Tanzanian-Muslim-Christian. In addition, having only ever attended British, Canadian and American schools, I cannot deny what Frantz Fanon calls, ‘Presence Europeenne’ as a constitutive element of my identity. How does one postulate a Black and/or African self within a language or discourse in which Blackness is absent? It is a result of this fragmentation in my identity that I find an interdisciplinary approach to art making to be the most accurate and naturalist way of making sense of the world.

With the theme of this issue being Identity, I thought it would be interesting to know your thoughts on the relationship between sound and identity.

Identity is tricky, because it is often thought of as being fixed. In my work I am much less interested in fixed notions of identity and more on in-between, hyphenated, and contradictory spaces between identities. I am interested in how things bleed into each other or are in excess of boundaries that we have built around them. As such, sound allows me to explore these interests because it is omnidirectional and cannot be contained. Working from the space of leakage is generative as it is where I can begin to think about questions of connectivity and cross pollination.

Could you talk a bit about the inspirations behind your work in the exhibition?

For the past two years, I have been researching and deconstructing national anthems from various African countries. When African nations gained independence from European colonial rule, they too were motivated by the ethics of self-determination by adopting new national anthems that would speak to the new ideologies of the independent states. These anthems, however, were composed using European musical conventions (notation, language, and instruments) and many were modelled after former colonial powers, thus exposing the contradictory and hybridised nature of postcolonial subject formation where self-determination both mirrors the former colonial powers while also speaking against the former colonial power. Put differently, these new states continued to use European tools of imagining while also rejecting European ideology.

The outcome of this research has ranged from works on paper to deconstructed sound works of various national anthems. The sound piece for this exhibition is a deconstruction of the Algerian national anthem. Here, I was interested in taking an anthem that is quite revolutionary and militaristic and turning it into something that connects and allows for reflection. I am interested in how sound moves through space and how it feels in the body, so this piece begins in a very high sublime range and gradually drops to a very low piano sound which plays back from a subwoofer, which is really felt in the body and ends with this coming together of voices in some form of a chorus.

Jacky Marshall

What inspired you to start working with photograms?

I have always admired Christian Schad’s Schadographs and was inspired to see what compositions I could make myself. My work is an iterative process combining all the elements of my drawing and photography, and taking my drawings into the darkroom and experimenting with new ways to make pictures was a natural process. At first it was just the poppies and ginkgo leaves, then the drawings I had been working on from Zoom life classes were added. I was drawn to the test strips which I could put together and make new collages. 

What parts of your creative process help you navigate your identity?

The act of making pictures and being creative helps me express myself in ways I could not verbally articulate as a child, and probably still now as an adult. I am creating a new world for myself in my work. 

What is it about blurring the boundary between painting and photography that appeals to you?

I am both a painter and a photographer. I like that I can be working on my paintings and drawings that are quick and gestural, and then take them into the darkroom and make another picture using the two processes and even adding more elements to the photograms at the same time, playing with colour through the darkroom process. Painting and drawing with light instead of paint and ink. Everything for me is available to be used and recycled.  

Qiana Mestrich

Born to parents from Panama and Croatia, how do these cultures influence you and your work?

As an artist of mixed heritage, I consider my work to be transcultural in nature, meaning that it combines elements of more than one culture. I never knew my (Croatian) father, so that is a country and culture that is still very foreign to me. Eventually, I would like to use my art as a framework for discovering and connecting more to this Eastern European identity that is in my DNA.

My mother’s homeland of Panama is a very unique place geographically, it being an isthmus in Central America and the site of the canal that most people know it for. Culturally it is a mix of indigenous, European (Spanish colonial) and African influences as the country was an important centre of the trading of enslaved peoples in that region starting in the 1500s. Given this unique history, upwards of 80% of Panamanians are considered to be Black or ‘mixed race’.

Beginning in the 1830s, another wave of Black migrants came to Panama from Caribbean islands like Jamaica and Barbados – this is when my mother’s family settled in Panama. Somehow my mother’s maiden name is Scottish in origin, which we still haven’t traced back, so this cultural multiplicity is everywhere within my family tree. Genealogy is one aspect of my practice.

I’d love to know your thoughts about how you feel identity impacts knowledge sharing and community building – I know these aspects are a key part of your practice.

I first encountered photography as a teenager in the mid-1990s and I never thought twice about the fact that we studied the work of (mostly white male) artists in class. It wasn’t until I got to college where I took 3 years of colour photo and began to question, ‘where are all the Black photographers and why aren’t we studying them in class?’ 

My confidence as a photographer and connection to the medium was formed when I was able to discover (on my own) the works of artists like Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Andres Serrano and Renee Cox, among other emerging photo-based artists of that time. From there I devoured work by Latin American photographers like Garduno, Bravo, Cravo Neto, Iturbide; obsessed over Japanese photographers like Hosoe, Sugimoto, Moriyama, Miyako; marveled over Black British photographers picturing the diaspora in Europe like Shonibare, Pollard, Fani Kayode, Barnor….the list goes on.

Essentially, I was determined to educate myself about ‘photography’s other histories’ and that is how my blog, Dodge & Burn, was founded. The blog was initially a place for me to digitally hold my knowledge, but then it became a platform for the many photographer interviews I published. It connected me to a global photo community and judging by the feedback I got from my peers and email correspondence from curators, students, and educators, it was something we all needed.

Your piece in the exhibition includes your son – could you talk a bit about your relationship and the inspiration behind the work?

Winston is the oldest of my two children. He’s the son I wished for, and he was so excited to come into this world that he was born a month early. I literally went into labour during my baby shower! Parents can be biased towards their offspring of course but not a day goes by when I don’t marvel at his presence, and I am validated by the many compliments I get from other adults who know him.

The sequence of images I’m showing in the Huxley Parlour group show were taken during an impromptu dance session (which Winston often breaks into) while I was shooting some still life photos in my makeshift outdoor studio on the deck of our home. One of his favourite songs came on and he started doing this dance called the Orange Justice – his limbs were just cutting the summer air and I found it curious how his head just hung down the whole time – a position not typical when performing that dance. 

The sun was blazing above us, and our home’s vinyl siding was the perfect reflector. I fired off multiple frames as I often do when photographing my children because I have to make every millisecond count before they tire of my requests to pose. I was trying to record Winston’s energy, this ecstasy he was in.

In interpreting the spirit of this work, I’m curious about the various (art) historical references that a viewer might apply to these photographs – from the religious (crucifixion) to the profane (lynching) to the technical capture of motion (Muybridge) but ultimately it reminds me of the transcendent experiences of African rituals throughout the diaspora that defy time and space.

Does motherhood influence your creative process at all?

Mothering has influenced my creative process in the sense that it made being an artist more urgent. Caring for two children fuelled my desires to care for and nurture the artist within me.

Shala Miller

How do you feel like your pieces in the exhibition explore the concept of identity?

I believe there is much to be seen and heard within the quotidian, and there are both simple and dynamic poetics of everyday living. Poetics that continue to help me understand the beauty and pain of Black femme adulthood, which in turn helps me understand the world around me. My entire artistic practice is bred from this belief. ‘Play’ is not just an image of myself, a Black female bodied person, beneath a tree and hanging from a tree. It is an image in conversation with my history as a Black female bodied person. It is an image about resistance and finding grounding.

What inspired you to work across text and image?

Working with text and image has been a sort of touchstone of my practice over the years. It’s what led me to video installation and writing for moving image in general. I try to use text as an extension of image making, not separate from it. In ‘Play’ specifically, I was also thinking about ethnographic field work as this image is a part of an ethnographic study I’ve been doing about the epigenetics of trauma and my relationship with my mother. The text beneath the images is a kind of poetry but then also field notes.

How important is transformation to you and your practice?

What gives steam to the engine of my practice and my personhood is being devoted to discovery and being a student of life. And I think with discovery comes transformation, or a kind of repositioning. And that is the sort of thing that I strive for in both my practice and my life.

Cheryl Mukherji

Your work for the exhibition explores transgenerational trauma through interventions in the family album. Does healing play an important part in your practice?

Healing plays as much part in my practice and life as it does with anyone. If the question leans more towards knowing if I have healed (in any way) as part of my practice, I would not have an answer to that mainly because, right now, I am interested in naming things, articulating feelings, and ideas (which is its own way of healing, I believe) more than rushing to fix them.

Are family and psychic inheritance important aspects of your identity as an artist?

Family, transgenerational trauma, and inheritance are recurring themes in my current work which makes them an important aspect of my identity too, because my work is semi-autobiographical. I don’t identify as an artist who is only concerned with and restricted to exploring these themes, but they do shape both me and my work in huge ways.

Diana Palermo

How does spirituality influence your identity as an artist?

Trust and faith are required for both. Being a heavily experimental process-based artist, I find that my fluidly intuitive relationship with materials and the unknown are a bridge. Personally, I will have moments where I feel like I’m conjuring a ghost while working in the darkroom, and moments when the by-products of spiritual rituals feel like sculptures. They influence and inform each other.

What was the inspiration behind the pieces chosen for the exhibition?

In the last year, I’ve thought a lot about the element of fire as an archetype in my life. I’ve been interrogating different symbolic meanings in direct and cryptic ways. I’ve been particularly curious about fire as both creator and destroyer. The poems in the two photographic prints are informed by these inquiries. 

The long exposure lumen print (Incantation 11) is a diaristic document centred around the unknowns of Covid. I was quarantined out of my studio at Columbia University from March 17th until 26th August 2020. The exposure of that print measures that amount of time. I set up the conditions by writing a poem on a sheet of acetate and using it as a transparency by placing it on photo paper and leaving it on the floor for almost 6 months. I don’t think I knew how long it was going to sit alone in that room. In many ways it records my absence and created itself. 

The other piece (Incantation 9) is a poem drawn with a flashlight while kneeling on the darkroom floor. The prints were then developed, and the image was revealed. For me, it speaks to the slow emergence of something new when fire and light are wielded in a balanced and intentioned manner. 

Do you have any rituals as part of your creative process?

I am a pretty methodical person, but when it comes to actually creating the work, it can be somewhat chaotic. I find that my studio set-up and clean-up are extremely ritualistic. I place certain objects and materials in a way that would make me want to use them when I enter or leave. Though the parameters of the pieces are planned, the actions are frenetic and leave a lot of room for fortuity. I find this is much like the relationship one has with spiritual rituals.

How do you see your work as a declaration of identification?

Claiming space as a queer person in otherwise confined spiritual traditions is a declaration. I’ve done a great deal of work both internally and academically unearthing the spirits and stories of queer mystics, gods, and saints. My work is a visceral reclamation of religious archetypes and stories through intuitive actions. Though many of them are created in the dark or in an absence, they are presented in the light with all their history and power like a relic in a museum or chapel.


Calafia Sanchez- Touzé

Could you talk a bit about the inspirations behind your series of images in the exhibition? 

The photographs in the show are about the feeling of premature grief. A feeling I’ve long associated with my father and brother. In Mexico, I was surrounded with images of suffering, violence, and martyrdom, mostly in a religious context. I started thinking about how those images might have affected my father as a child and his understanding of his own mortality and sickness. I used crime photographs taken from the local newspaper in Michoacán as references for my portraits, as well as iconic religious postures to position my subjects. 

Has exploring aspects of the body and your family always been an interest of yours? 

I think my study of the body has a lot to do with my fascination with the ways skin can make us think about death. I make images where skin is plump and smooth, folding on itself, and juxtapose it with moments where skin is older and fragile, where it becomes a thin layer that could tear at any moment. Skin shows the body’s proximity to death in its capacity (or lack thereof) to seal the inside from the outside, but it can also show nothing at all.

Gwen Smith

What inspires you to work between photography and painting?

I’m a vessel filled with pictures—sometimes the photographs that I generate are transformed into paintings or collages, and other times they maintain their shape as photographs. This fluidity of media bears traces of my own fugitive existence, the way that I connect my lived experience to a greater genealogy which crosses lines of colour, nationality, and family. I create proof of my own existence through my relation to others- the artwork is my evidence.

How important is archival imagery to you and your practice? Does it help ground your sense of identity at all?

Essentially, I am an archivist: I accumulate images, photographs of family and those who have made me who I am, shots of artworks that have struck me, and use them to chronicle meaning in my life. These images connect to one another, forming threads of belonging and selfhood through a labyrinth winding around the complications of dissociation and Blackness.

‘These artists mark an intractable this. The lens points, more like an ear than an index finger, in the direction of what is felt rather than seen.’ – Justine Kurland

The exhibition runs until October 16th, 2021. 

Discover more here

Ziqian Liu

“props are not only objects, but also something that brings me ‘knowledge’ through photography.”

A faceless woman with black hair is reflected in the round silvery disc of a mirror. Surrounded sometimes by flowers, sometimes by fruit, these photographs are minimalistic and infinitely satisfying. Ziqian Liu is an independent Chinese photographer who developed her self taught practice whilst struggling to find a full-time job after graduation.

Liu explores two main themes within her work. The first examines the “symbiosis between human beings and nature” She states that “to some extent, it can be said that human beings and the rest of the natural world are equal – we live in the same world, breathing the same air, mutual tolerance.” Because of this, she attempts to illustrate a state of harmony between humans and nature within her work.

Secondly, she investigates the theme of perspective. Through her work, she conveys the need to scrutinise the same thing from different angles so one might discover different findings from the ones we already know. While she desires symmetry and order she understands that this is not always possible in an imperfect world. “In her work, the image in the mirror represents the idealised world she wishes to live in, and the integration with the outside is just a reminder to respect and recognise the imbalance in the real world, but also to adhere to the order and principles of our hearts.” NR Magazine joins the artist in conversation.

You have said that you want your photographs to show a peaceful harmony between humans and nature. However, is it even possible to have that said harmony in a post-capitalist society, where even with ethical sourcing the props you use in your images, such as the flowers and fruit, might have had a negative impact on nature?

I think the harmony mentioned still exists.

First of all, the props used in the pictures are all things that will be involved in my life. I will not prepare the props or throw them away for shooting but shoot what is in the home. Flowers are always in my home; they are my good friends. Fruit or vegetables are also on the menu of the day. In fact, when I shoot, I usually use the plant as the subject and myself as the prop. I will not deliberately change the form of the plant for the sake of the picture, but let my body match the inherent posture of the plant.

In the post-capitalist society, knowledge is in an irreplaceable and important position. Of course, I don’t think there is a clear boundary in the scope of knowledge. I think these props are not only objects, but also something that brings me “knowledge” through photography. I gained knowledge about plants while taking care of them, but more important is the change that solitude brought to my heart during shooting. The whole process was very positive and harmonious for me.

You have said you use mirrors in your images because you want to create the feeling of another reality within your work. Mirrors have often been considered as a bridge between reality in both mythology and popular culture, such as Louise Carol’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. Are these cultural stories something that has inspired you? 

In the beginning, it was a very coincidental reason to use mirrors in the images. Originally, I was just taking pictures of plants at home. When I had a rest, I picked up the mirror beside me to look at myself. At that time, I suddenly had the inspiration to try using a mirror in my photography. Later, I found this way of shooting is very interesting, so I stuck with it.

Later, when I saw works in which mirrors appeared, such as movies or even songs, I would feel very familiar, and I would pay special attention to the way mirrors appeared in these works, which sometimes brought me inspiration.

While you consider your work ‘a space that belongs to yourself’, you have also said that you want viewers to be able to imagine that the protagonist of these images can be anyone. Have you ever considered using plus-sized models or models from different backgrounds to create more diversity in your work?

Maybe I won’t consider a model for a few years. All my works are self-portrait to find the most suitable way to get along with myself, which is also the reason and original intention for me to stick to photography.

During the daily shooting, I was alone without any assistant or other people to help me. It is only when I am alone that I am most at peace and inspired to create these images. Sometimes I can only hear my own breathing. I can’t concentrate if I’m talking to people while I’m taking pictures. Secondly, only I have the best idea of what kind of picture I want to finish, such as how high the arm should be raised, how much distance is between me and the mirror, and so on. A very small difference will make a big difference. These details cannot be communicated with the model effectively, so I might insist on completing the work all by myself.

What does identity mean to you as an artist?

For me, identity is the same as occupation. It simply summarises who I am, but does not show the whole of a person. Identity is not important to me.

In fact, I only think that I am taking pictures in the way I love. I am very honoured to be regarded as an artist. This status also encourages me to continue to be myself, not to be disturbed by the outside world, and to shoot more pictures that can bring peace and beauty to the viewer.

You have mentioned your love for flowers many times and you often use them in your work. Do you choose the specific flowers according to their meaning? And if so does that meaning give a hidden message to each photograph? 

To be honest there are no specific choices and no hidden messages. As mentioned in the first question, I only take existing flowers at home. Before I became a photographer, I always go to the flower shop every weekend to pick out some fresh flowers, I enjoyed the vitality of my home very much.

You have stated that you use your artwork as a way to get to know yourself. Do you consider your art as a form of therapy to help you come to terms with your identity in life? 

I quite agree with what you said. I think artistic creation is a way for me to heal myself, just like yoga and meditation, which can bring positive effects to people.

Through photography, I find that the fusion of identity has a lot to do with the change of perspective, and the biggest feeling it gives me is that I can accept myself more easily. Before photography, I was very concerned about my appearance and looked in the mirror to see if there were any flaws that needed to be covered up. But by shooting with a mirror, I had a chance to see myself from different angles, and I discovered that the so-called ‘flaws’ have their own beauty, they are just a normal part of my body. I think the integration of identity has also led to a change in my mindset, a more positive and peaceful self.

Not long ago, I just summoned the courage to face a part of my body in front of the camera – the wrinkles on my stomach. It was the first time that I discovered the beauty of the traditional impression of “flaws”.

You have stated that you wish your work to be apolitical. Do you think that choice comes from a place of privilege, as many artists are unable to separate politics from their work, or is it a necessary choice for your own personal safety?

I don’t pay attention to politics too much in daily life, so the content of my works is mainly about the harmonious coexistence between human and nature, and has nothing to do with politics. But if when the political inspires my expression of desire, I don’t think I will withdraw.

You have said before that you enjoy solitude. Did you find that the pandemic allowed you to be more productive and was a fulfilling period in terms of your art practice? 

Yes, I enjoy solitude. All my work is done in solitude. In my opinion, in art practice, the most productive period is before I found my shooting style, and the most creative and efficient period is in the groping stage.

As more and more pictures are taken, I set higher requirements for myself, hoping that the content and details will be more refined. And I don’t want to be confined by a fixed style, so I try to make some changes on the original basis, so it takes more time to complete a work now than in the past.

What advice do you have for young creatives who want to work with photography? 

It is important to have confidence in ourselves, trying not to imitate. There is no good, bad, beautiful or ugly work. It is enough that the work comes from the heart and is sincere.

Are you working on any specific projects at the moment and what plans do you have for the future? 

I like to let nature take its course and have no plans for the future. Now I am still working steadily on my own works.

Naomi Gilon

“It flows, it bubbles, it can be matte, shiny, satin – it’s great”

Multidisciplinary artist Naomi Gilon has a rich history of experimentation that encompasses a wide range of methods and materials. The Brussels based artist combines beauty with the macabre in a strong effort to break away from the restrains of the art world’s expectations.

Gilon’s ceramic work has a life of its own. Consisting of a series of sculpted bags with claw handles, vases with long witchy fingers and high heels with mangled toenails, her pieces challenge our perception of the medium. Drawing on a wellspring of inspiration from pop culture, fashion, gore, and mythology, Gilon explores the aesthetic and psychological potential in everyday objects and breathes new life into them through her process of metamorphosis.

Gilon embraces the fiendish and the unconventional in her practice and crafts her pieces with a glaring sense of beauty. Her ability to transform everyday items into otherworldly hybrids subvert our attachments and relationships to the objects, forcing us to sit with and question our sense of discomfort and ultimately, our sense of being.

NR Magazine speaks with the artist to find out what makes up the weird world of Naomi Gilon, and what her monstrous creations can reveal about us all.

Does the desire for experimentation with your work stem from anywhere? Do you channel this into other aspects of your life?  

It’s my way of expressing what I think. I have always been a shy child who listened to the needs of others. It’s not easy to extricate yourself from this behaviour when you become an adult. It’s both a work on myself and on others. I try to have a sociological point of view with my work. It’s a reciprocal exchange between my art and me; I bring reflections to my work through my reading for example, and conversely my works teach me a lot about life and myself. So, this desire to create and to experiment is simply a desire to live. I also channel this energy through botany. I like to see the evolution of plants.

Your practice has evolved a lot over the past few years – you’ve created installations with found objects and explored the tuning industry, whereas now, your practice has moved towards ceramics and crafting objects from scratch. Can you talk about this development?

It’s true that the discovery of ceramics was a revelation for me. Before that I worked mainly from assembly methods, textiles, car body parts, stickers, etc. The hybridization process was already present. As a self-taught ceramicist I’m able to not be in a system of appropriation of forms, but creations. I have almost total control over the objects I create.

Also, my subjects contrast to the ceramic material: fragility and violence, the sublime and the monstrous. I like it a lot because we are looking for confrontation. Beyond that, my thinking remains the same, over time I’ve just deepened it. It draws its source from popular culture. It’s a very large and constantly evolving subject.

Is constant artistic evolution important to you? 

Yes of course, it’s linked to our personal development. As I mentioned before with experimentation, the evolution of our work is needed to live.

You’ve exhibited your work in lots of places in Europe. What is most important to you when displaying and showcasing your pieces?

What is most important to me is sharing a story, first and foremost a fantastic story and something that makes you dream. We try to widen the boundaries of the mind and share it with as many people as possible.

I also realise that my works have their own existence. Once out of my imagination, they travel without me. We see them for what they are, and I become secondary, as sometimes I answer questions for interviews. What I mean is that my works don’t need my words to create a discussion with the person who encounters them.

Throughout the development of your practice, I’ve noticed that your sculpted claws have remained present in most of your pieces and have become a sort of key signifier for your work. Could you talk a bit about this recurrent motif? What is the narrative behind it?

The claws appeared to me through the imagery of car tuning – the beast under the hood, the roar of the engine, etc. Then at the same time I discovered the book ‘Crash’ by J. G. Ballard, the film ‘Christine’ by John Carpenter, and the film ‘Titanium’ by director Julia Ducournau.

Following this car-related imagery, I plunged into the world of gore and horror films. They’re an inexhaustible source for questioning the identity of a monster. I also turned to mythology, folktales, Nordic stories, etc, as well as representations of the figure of the monster in paintings through the centuries. It’s a timeless fascination.

“I consider my hybrid ceramic objects as the chimeras of our humanity. It’s the sublimation of the horror in our lives.”

Your work, and your recent ceramic pieces in particular draw on aspects of horror, gore, fashion, and pop culture. What are your specific influences and what intrigues you most about these things? Have they always been of interest to you? 

The human hybrid has fascinated me since I was little. I’ve never been a big fan of monsters before; it was through my painting studies at ENSAV La Cambre in Brussels that I explored these interests.

I’m influenced by the cartoonist Emil Ferris, the authors Aldous Huxley, René Barjavel, Philip K. Dick, George Orwell and the authors of the Nouveau Roman like Alain Robbe-Grillet. Also, directors like Ridley Scott for Blade Runner 1982 (my favourite film), Dario Argento for Suspiria in 1977, Rosemary’s Baby, David Cronenberg and Videodrome…. the list goes on and on.

The image of the monster can take different forms, it adapts to the times and that is what fascinates me. It’s always a reflection of society.

What is it like living as a creative in Brussels? Has Belgian culture influenced your work at all? 

Living in a large multicultural city is very rewarding, and Brussels has lots of great qualities. The arts scene is important, but I don’t draw inspiration from it directly. Everyone is obviously hugely influenced by the internet. Subliminally my influences are global.

But still, I love the work of Aline Bouvy and Xavier Mary – they marked my debut in the art world.

What was your aim when creating your online shop?

To break the notion of art acquisition. During my studies we were told that walking into an art gallery is like walking into a store. I never found it easy, and I think most art spaces want to keep that aspect of privilege. By creating an online shop, I feel like I’m breaking away from these principles. People who enjoy my work can acquire it as easily as going to collect bread in a bakery. We buy unique things in an almost banal way. And the direct creator-to-buyer relationship is easier than having one or two intermediaries, but I do enjoy collaborations and discovering new networks of people, I think that’s really important.

The form and texture of your pieces have always been interesting to me. What’s your approach to working with different materials, and are there specific materials you enjoy working with the most? 

I really like materials that imitate others, like faux fur textiles or mock snakeskin, or materials that drip, or spread like a disease. I love studying the set design and makeup of 1920s gore films.

I also love having my hands in clay. It feels like a real connection to the earth. My favourite part is the last step; that of enamelling. There’re always surprises. The colours are always unique and have an almost captivating depth. It flows, it bubbles, it can be matte, shiny, satin – it’s great.

What have you been finding inspiration from at the moment?

My creations of monstrous shoes were inspired by the exhibition ‘MARCHE ET DÉMARCHE’, at MAD in Paris in 2019. My interest in the historical journey of objects emerged from this exhibition. This is a process that is now part of my thinking and methodology. My new bag series is also based on a nod to the past; it’s an object with great history and connotations, that never ceases to evolve, like a living being.

You’ve mentioned that with your work you try to put societal fears and desires into narratives, words, and images. Why is this important for you, and has this always been a focus of yours?

It’s a way of making memory appear physical, and to create memories of objects. When I started out as an artist, the term ‘connotation’ was a big part of my way of thinking. The spare parts of cars whose sheets were crumpled, bent, and scratched were the vestiges of a moment in time and of an emotion.

The concept of time is very important to me because it moves so fast and takes with it the things that have forged us like words, objects, smells and people. When I make a piece of ceramic, it’s a product of all the thoughts that I have during that moment that permeate the clay. I’m a very nostalgic person and I must highlight all those moments that will eventually disappear. I think that’s a big fear of mine – my ‘monster’.

What is your usual process for creating hybridisations and distortions of objects?

It’s not a process, it’s just an automatism. Bringing everyday things to life that we no longer pay attention to.

“Everything is important and nothing is trivial. I don’t have a specific method.”

You work a lot with commonplace objects. What interests you about working with them? You describe your work as ‘unique and precious banalities’, so it’s clear that you see a lot of creative and critical potential within these objects.

It’s like listening to the radio every day and hearing the number of people who have died from Covid, migratory accidents, wars and attacks; it hits us for a few seconds and then we continue with our daily life. Like the words of Hannah Arendt, its ‘the banality of evil.’ This might be a bad example, but humans make everything that doesn’t directly impact them uninteresting and unimportant. I’m not interested in the individualistic human.

I like the idea of asserting individuality and sharing it. I want to banish the idea of normality. Recognising its privileged position is the first step in thinking about things differently.

What is left on the day you die? The image of us, but it is not eternal. Objects into which we’ll have slipped a few words of love, the words on the back of a postcard, or a compilation of music that we have probably listened to hundreds of times. Life is abstract and complex, so you we should go beyond it and make the mundane things unique and precious.

What things outside of your practice do you feel are ‘unique and precious’?

The people we love and the mysterious things that bind us to them. I’m a lonely person (besides being nostalgic), but I love being around the people I love and listening to them talk. I love to read and taking the time to do nothing.

With the theme of this issue being Identity, I thought it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on how you explore your own identity through your work.

My artistic approach is mixed with my personal matters, it forms a hybrid. The evolution of my works reflects my own determination and of the way in which, little by little, I come into alignment with who I am. We must establish a harmonious cohabitation between our inner and outer being, between the angel and the demon. We should learn from our mistakes and accept that we will make them. The monstrous hand kind of symbolises this oscillation between the two sides of our identity.

Many aspects of your work revolve around monstrous forms. Could you talk a bit about how you explore the concept of the body?

I see the body as a hybrid object, something organic that evolves and distributes energy, both positive and negative.

Like J-M Gustave Le Clézio said, we’re contained in a sack of skin. I find once again that it’s something incredible yet minimised. Moving your body, feeding it, making it work properly is a wonderful thing and full of mystery.

I really like the vegetable head portraits of the painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo because he presents us with a vision that goes beyond our human limits, and which reminds us of the fact that we can be anything. We’re not that different to vegetables and we too will rot one day.

I’m also influenced by the chaotic landscapes of Jérôme Bosch, where we can see the energy of living and the beauty of heterogeneity.

Where do you see your practice heading? What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m working on many new projects. Hopefully I can still work collaboratively in the world of styling. I also want to explore new materials alongside ceramics. I have a solo show at the end of October in Brussels and joint show at the end of November in Amsterdam.


Interview · IZZY BILKUS
Discover Naomi Gilon’s work here

Kayra Atasoy

“if I don’t experience and understand the moment I’m capturing, I can’t capture it properly”

Dissatisfied with Turkish society’s attitude towards the country’s contemporary youth culture, photographer Kayra Atasoy captures the power and momentum of techno and rave culture in her project ‘Blame the Youth’ and uses the medium of photography as an outlet to explore and express aspects of her own identity. The ongoing project is inspired by the autonomy of the Berlin rave scene – a subculture that Atasoy resonates strongly with. Atasoy captures candid moments of these subcultures in her own country, that reflect the honesty and sense of freedom that she values most about these underground collectives.

‘Blame the Youth’ not only reflects the angst of the photographer, but also serves as a kind of visual manifesto for Turkey’s emergent youth culture, who Atasoy claims is simultaneously overlooked and criticized by the country’s older generation. The series features the influence of rave culture from overseas and how social spaces have been reshaped during the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the early hours of the morning, when time is irrelevant and all limitations disappear, Atasoy observes everyone’s true selves. It is in these magical moments that she is able to investigate her own identity through the lens.

NR Magazine speaks with Atasoy to learn more about the inspiration behind the project and what it is like being part of the subcultures she documents.

What initially attracted you to photography as an artistic medium?

For me, photography is a profession that offers immense excitement to my life.

A camera provides me with all the power of capturing, interpreting, and reflecting my point of view of a single moment, which is an amazing feeling. My way of truly living and experiencing life is through observing. Regardless of the topic, I always feel the strong urge to observe and watch. This is one of the main reasons I chose photography as an artistic medium. I love to observe life, and I love reflecting on the way I perceive it. Photography is my way of communicating my own perspective.

What’s been the biggest lesson learned from creating your series ‘Blame the Youth’? Have you discovered anything about yourself in the process?

One of the main things I learned was how various aspects of my life such as my environment and my mental health affect my work directly, and how this happens without me even realising it. One of the biggest takeaways I got from ‘Blame the Youth’ was that it helped me to fully understand what I want to do with my life.

Could you talk a bit about how you feel Turkish society blames the youth?

Unfortunately, I think we are a minority in Turkey. I believe the ‘youth’ that has been blamed by society is representing a minority. This isn’t something I’m always reminded of, as I’m always surrounded by this ‘minority’. Our struggles, our ways of having fun and creating aren’t understood by the rest of Turkish society. I think ‘Blame the Youth’ is a unique resource. It doesn’t matter where I take my photos; I could take photos for this project in Turkey, Germany, Spain, etc. The places where I feel this sense of ‘blame’ changes of course. I’m not a professional – I’m still trying and learning. Most of the support I get for my work is from abroad. This is obviously really motivating, but at the same time, not getting the same support from my own country is a bit upsetting. Even though I’ve got appreciation and encouragement from the people around me, my work doesn’t get the overall support I hoped for from my country. ‘Blame the Youth’ is a project where the name and the photos both contradict and complement each other. I believe that this juxtaposition reflects the current attitudes towards Turkish youth culture within our society. In Turkey, people are used to being judged and blamed. We don’t feel safe the second we stray from our circles. We learn to live by the rules, limits, and judgemental looks. I think my work documents all the moments where society feels it has the right to judge us. It’s not only about the parties, alcohol, and drugs – it’s also about the way we dress and the way we choose to live. As I continued to travel and explore, I realised that the way I choose to live makes it hard to live peacefully in Turkey. As I’ve mentioned before,

“I’m not the best with words, so even though I can’t stand up to this problem verbally, I try to communicate my principles visually through my photography.”

Do you set out with an aim in mind for shooting, or is it more a case of enjoying the freedom of the moment? I imagine it makes more sense to go with the flow and to fully immerse yourself in the moment when photographing techno and rave culture. And is living in the moment important to you?

I’d say yes, as the foundation of my photos is rooted in being in the moment. I am always looking for ‘the moment’. Observing and capturing spontaneous moments gives me much more joy and excitement compared to setting up a shoot. It might seem like I’m missing out on the moment while trying to photograph it, but this is my way of experiencing that moment. I have a strong desire to show my interpretations of things. When I take photos for ‘Blame the Youth’, I don’t just stand back and observe – I experience the same moment with the people I photograph, and I think this has a great influence on that desire. I strongly believe that if I don’t experience and understand the moment I’m capturing, I can’t capture it properly.

“Even though it might seem like I’m just a bystander, I see myself as the main character living in that specific moment.”

Are there any particular aspects of the techno and rave scene that influence you the most?

The first time I experienced techno music was in Berlin. It was the first time I was introduced to this music culture, and it had an immense impact on me. After that, I started reading, researching, and listening to it more. After scratching the surface, I discovered that these rave scenes have so many levels to them. The rise of techno music after the fall of the Berlin Wall, empty factories were being taken over to host illegal raves and there was a lot of rebellion amongst the people who were separated by the wall – this affected me deeply. I realised how the rebellious nature of techno music correlates with Berlin’s history. Just like ‘Blame the Youth’, I also realized how these things are rooted in a specific frame of mind, and not solely about partying. This led me to give more thought and understanding towards the meaning of music and I began to watch people even closer. Even though techno and rave scenes don’t have the same history in Turkey, I wanted it to reflect the rebellion and suppression within itself.

How has your work been received in Turkey? Do you find your way of working to be controversial or rebellious?

As I mentioned before, my photographs haven’t received a lot of recognition in my country. Even though I took those photos in Turkey, I felt more understood by other countries. This is quite an upsetting situation, as I believe my work honestly reflects Turkey’s reality. To put it another way, despite Turkey’s prejudice and ignorance, we are here, and we will always be here. Our struggle isn’t built on our desire to be completely accepted. We just want to live freely and not feel any guilt or shame about it. I want to do my job freely and have fun doing so. For those reasons, I consider my work to be both controversial and rebellious.

“It’s a struggle to just live and to make ourselves seen.”

Do any aspects of your own life influence your work?

My life and the photos I take are pretty much integrated, and I love that. I’m a part of the culture that I try to photograph. When I’m photographing, I capture myself in some of the shots. I won’t work on ‘Blame the Youth’ forever, so I like to experiment with different ideas, and will continue to do so. I think ‘Blame the Youth’ will represent a culture and an era that will live on forever. I want to reflect on life the way I experience it. I don’t want to share a moment if I haven’t experienced it.

There is a story and a continuation of subjects in my work. The people I photograph are a part of my life, so I’m able to shoot them in a rave scene, and also capture them at home in a completely different atmosphere.

You’ve mentioned that Berlin is a big inspiration for your work, and how you felt a different sense of freedom there compared to being in Turkey. Could you talk a bit more about that?

In Turkey, it is hard to live as a woman, and it is even harder to stand on your own as a female artist. When I was in Berlin, I felt safer, and I had the chance to observe different subcultures. The government-supported techno parties are incredible. I think that was the reason I always considered Berlin to be my inspiration. I bought plane tickets to Berlin when I first got the chance. I stayed there by myself and got an incredible opportunity to observe. Every time I came back to Turkey, I just felt increasingly restricted. One of the biggest reasons for this was feeling judged – another core aspect of ‘Blame the Youth’. We were always told that we were doing something wrong.

“Being able to confidently say ‘I’m a photographer’ isn’t an easy thing to do in Turkey. That’s why I don’t feel like I truly belong in my country.”

How has the pandemic affected youth culture in Turkey? Have you found it a struggle to stay creative and inspired?

Two years ago, just when I started to recognise my career growth, the pandemic hit. Around that time, ‘Blame the Youth’ was getting recognition not just from Turkey, but around the world. When we were quarantined at home, it was a real struggle to find motivation. I forced myself to be motivated for a couple of months, and I realised that the potential of ‘Blame the Youth’ extended beyond the streets, clubs, and parties. The people I photographed were still the same, and so they would continue to be a part of this culture regardless of time and place. During the lockdown, I began to photograph moments of distress that we all felt. Throughout this period, I tried some work, but despite how much I tried, I found that I was always better at capturing an instantaneous moment. Even though I was working on editorials, I was only fully satisfied with these instantaneous little moments I captured. The lockdown provided us with a break to be introspective I turned my camera away from the chaos around me, and focussed on fewer interactions, fewer people, but still the same audience.

You’ve discussed capturing ‘magical moments’ – what do these moments look and feel like to you?

‘Magical moments’ are the moments where people are being their true and spontaneous selves. They are when I capture people dancing without the fear of being judged or watched. The photos I take are divided into two groups: the people who know that my camera is on them, and the people who don’t. When people are aware that they are being photographed, it disturbs the truth and the spontaneity of the moment. When people aren’t aware of the camera, I’m able to shoot pure moments that I define as being ‘magical’.

What are your favourite moments to photograph?

Probably the moments I capture without overthinking – they end up being the best possible moments. When I’m out there with my camera I’m always in a rush: observing, running, dancing – there’s only an instant between observing and shooting. I usually realise later that I pressed the shutter button at the perfect time, to capture a moment that I wouldn’t have been able to capture if I pressed the button even a second earlier. These are the shots that turn out to be the most satisfying ones. These are the shots where the subject is completely in their element, unaware they are part of this perfect moment. I always want to capture reality, but from my perspective.

What do you have planned for your work in the future?

After graduation, I would love to create a path that enables me to travel more and experience different cultures. I will be spending this winter in an analogue studio’s darkroom in Budapest for an internship. I’ve also received exhibition offers from London. If everything goes according to plan, I will spend around two weeks in London for this. I want to create deeper levels of meaning with ‘Blame the Youth’, whilst also observing new cultures and new people. I will eventually head back to Turkey, but for a while, I just want to travel and shoot. I want to be able to make a living through my photography. I can’t picture myself doing anything else.


Discover Kayra Atasoy’s work here

Jessamyn Lovell

“we can find power in the choice to engage in public sousveillance (surveillance of ourselves) but it also gives power away”

A wallet is stolen from a gallery in San Fransisco, just over a year later a woman receives a summons to appear in court for a petty crime she did not commit. It sounds like the beginning of a movie but for artist Jessamyn Lovell it was reality. She learned that her identity had been stolen by a woman named Erin Hart, who had been using her name to check into hotels, hire cars and to shoplift. As a way to help deal with the trauma of the situation, Lovell began the Dear Erin Hart project where she documented the process of tracking down and surveilling the woman who had stolen her identity.

Unable to find Erin Hart on her own Lovell hired a private detective and soon discovered that Hart was already in jail for a previous misdemeanour. However, upon Hart’s release Lovell and the P.I she had hired followed Hart around the city, photographing her. Lovell decided against contacting Hart directly and instead wrote the other woman a letter explaining the project to her. No reply was ever received. While Dear Erin Hart is perhaps Lovell’s most known work she is no stranger to documenting the lives of herself and others and it forms a central part of her practice. NR Magazine joined the artist in conversation.

What does Identity mean to you as an artist?

I have often used my artistic practice as a way to research and hopefully come closer to understanding the different and fluid aspects of who I am in relation to others. Throughout my life, I have assumed and shed many different identities, which have brought waves of immeasurable grief as well as limitless joy. I see my job as an artist to explore and reflect on these observations and discoveries to those that might see my findings as interesting and/or useful.

Do you think surveillance has become an integral and practically unnoticeable part of our lives given the rise of social media and apps having access to our phones at all times? How do you think this will affect us in the future?

I cannot really speak for other people’s experiences navigating public and private spaces but I certainly notice the mechanisms of oppression in every surveillance camera and security guard watching me. I have come to understand surveillance to be part of my everyday experience while doing what I can to avoid it. I see it as a gaze of sorts coming from systems of oppression. I think we can find power in the choice to engage in public sousveillance (surveillance of ourselves) but it also gives power away, especially for more vulnerable populations like young people who may not be as aware of the implications and lasting impact willingly sharing information might have. As a private investigator, social media is an important research tool in the work I do. As I have learned more and more about how much and what types of information you can learn about people online;

“I have personally pulled away from engaging in sousveillance on social media, which has compelled me to find other ways to artistically process my experiences.”

I think privacy is very rare these days and I only see that becoming more and more the case.

Can you tell me more about your work ‘No Trespassing’ where you documented your estranged father?

The gist of this project was that from 2007-2010 I found, followed and photographed my estranged father as a way to sort out if I could ever reach out to him or be in his life again.

“My father tried to have me kidnapped when I was a little girl after he left our family. I was estranged from him for most of my life by my own choice after that.”

I started following him initially as a way to take my own power back using the long lens of my camera. As the project progressed, I started to see my acts of surveillance as a private performance just for me. I came away learning more about my own identity apart from him as well as the ways in which the abuse I suffered at his hands had, in part, informed who I had become as an adult. I documented the process and shared it as a book and exhibition as a way to interrogate the spaces between fact and fiction in our own histories as well as in storytelling.

You obtained a Private Investigator licence, what are the requirements to gain this license and now that you have it what is the legal extent of what you are able to do when surveilling an individual/s?  

In the United States, the license needed to legally practice as a Private Investigator is state by state but the requirements are all pretty similar. In New Mexico, where I live and work, 6,000 hours of investigative work are required as well as passing a jurisprudence exam, paying a licensing fee, and then participating in annual training. Because Private investigators are civilians, not police or military, the same laws apply to execute our jobs. So, for instance, when I conduct surveillance I must obey all laws regarding privacy and distance. I have had to learn a great deal about public and private space as it pertains to paparazzi law in order to navigate what is legal in terms of gathering information.

“I mostly have had to learn by research as I go and through developing relationships with other P.I.s, lawyers and sometimes even law enforcement.”

Has Covid affected how you approach your art practice?

While I have had a pretty substantial increase in private investigation clients during the pandemic, I have found that doing fieldwork to complete my jobs has been very tricky. I have given talks and performances nationally about my work in years past but have not been able to do that during the pandemic. I have had to put a project on hold that I was starting work on in 2019 because it depended on collaborators. I am happy that I have just been able to resume work on it this month. I hope to get back to booking lectures, talks, and performances again soon.

Can you tell me more about your ongoing work ‘D.I.Y. P.I.’?

Do It Yourself Private Investigation (D.I.Y. P.I.) is an ongoing project that began with getting my private investigator’s license in 2017 after putting in the five years of investigative work. I documented that process, shared the work on my Patreon, at an exhibition in Albuquerque, and toured a series of performances and talks. I think that my work comes across the clearest when I am able to present it publicly sharing the stories and adventures of making it. I hope to get back to doing more immersive performances and presentations about the work I do.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Oh, wow – lots of places! Living my own life and observing how other people move through their lives has provided the most inspiration for me. Facing the systems of oppression in my day to day living and helping others to empower themselves in navigating these systems is what fuels me to keep getting up every day and trying.

“Making art in those spaces of feeling disempowered has literally kept me alive.”

Music and film also inspire me greatly.

‘Dear Erin Hart’ is perhaps your most well-known work, what do you think in particular draws people to this artwork?

Dear Erin Hart, lends itself well to a wider audience for a few reasons. One is that it is about identity theft, which is prevalent in our culture at the moment so it touches on a timely issue. Identity theft strikes at something very vulnerable for most of us. Our identities are all we have that is ours and only ours so when someone uses our name or image to commit acts that we do not ourselves do, it feels like a real violation and loss of control on a deep level. I think that those who read what I did for this project (following the woman who stole my identity) as an act of revenge, they seem to appreciate how I took back my power from this person who wronged me. For others, they see the compassion I found for this woman who is living her life the best way she knows how. Over the time I executed the project and really for the years that have followed, I have come to see it as an act of restorative justice on my part and long to actually know this woman.

What advice do you have for young creatives looking to explore concepts of identity and surveillance?

I encourage young people to explore how surveillance impacts them personally and professionally as well as how it informs their own identity. I will say that it has been very valuable to me to learn as much as they can about the laws around surveillance.

I have found self-reflection about my own identity to be a critical part of how I research and explore it on a larger scale outside of myself. In terms of those wanting to explore identity publicly as their work, I would advise anyone moving into this realm to deeply consider how they present themselves publicly and privately.

“Sharing your story is an act of generosity and trust and sadly, not everyone who has access to our images and stories can be trusted to be respectful.”

Are you working on any other projects at the moment and what plans do you have for the future?

I am currently working on a collaboration called Practiced Disguises where artist and photographer Heather Sparrow is working with me to document the wide array of disguises I have employed in my work as a Private investigator. We are still in the early stages of bringing each disguise to life and I cannot wait to share this in the coming year or so.  I am also working with a well known Canadian actor to create a movie or TV series about that part of my life. We are working with a screenwriter on the script now, which is getting pretty exciting. I think it will be really interesting to see how the project unfolds!



Ileana Ninn

“Even when you invent aspects of yourself, it’s always a part of you”

Through manipulating her photographs, Ileana Ninn plays around with concepts of perception, personality and how we see ourselves. Often erasing facial features, attaching multiple limbs, and cloning her subjects, Ileana encourages her imagery to be interpreted by the viewer at their own pace and without a concrete explanation.

Visually interrogating what it means to present yourself and your personality to the world, Ileana’s work is a palate cleanser for the timeless questioning of identity in portraiture. Ileana’s interest in the different facets all of us have to our personality and social façades is the driving force behind her work.

Ileana aims to explore our ability to change whilst remaining true to ourselves, and her work uncovers the conflicts and dilemmas that are apparent in what she describes as ‘a unique personality.’

NR Magazine speaks with the photographer to discuss her creative influences, how she sees others and how she has learned to observe herself through her work.

What inspired you to start manipulating and distorting your photographs?

I wanted to represent the phenomena of photography having different elements of personality and personal reflections of the world.

Your work plays around with the concept of perception and how we see ourselves. How would you describe the way you see yourself?

Although I represent myself in my photography, it’s not necessarily just my personality. I also play with my surroundings. The aim isn’t always to show myself, but more to highlight the complexity of an individual.

Do you find that distorting or manipulating your work uncovers anything about the original subjects? And do you find new creative perspectives from this process?

Yes, I try to reveal something. Whenever I choose a subject or take a photo, I do so knowing almost always in advance how I will distort it. I don’t always find my photos interesting without the process of manipulation that I put them through.

Talk to me a bit about your creative background and influences. Do you take much inspiration from aspects of surrealism and contemporary youth culture?

I grew up listening to a lot of music, mainly English pop and rock, and I was always fascinated by vinyl records and their covers – my father had a huge collection. In terms of surrealism, I think everything I saw from the world of Tim Burton influenced me.

You’ve mentioned that you like to highlight people’s ability to change while remaining themselves. Could you talk a bit more about that?

I think everyone shows different sides of themselves in different situations, to protect themselves or to show off, for example. When a person wants to show off to gain something, even if that person forces some of their personality traits, in the end it is still a part of them that they are showing.

“Even when you invent aspects of yourself, it’s always a part of you. I distort my photos the way people distort themselves.”

What do you want viewers to take from your work?

I am a young photographer, so I don’t really have enough experience or maturity to want anyone to get anything out of my work. If people are simply looking at them, then I’m happy. If people want to share with me the effect my work has on them, then even better. If I’ve been able to bring something to them in any capacity, that makes me happy. I want to share.

How does social media affect your practice? Is it your main way of communicating your art to others?

Yes, this is my main way of communicating my art. It’s easy, fast and I can reach people across the world. I prefer putting up posters, where people can stumble upon them randomly while walking down the street.

What photographers do you take inspiration from?

Hannah Maynard – she was born in England and moved to Canada in 1851. You should study her life and her work; I think she was an amazing woman.

Your work also demonstrates the different aesthetics and capabilities of the body and how figures interact with each other and the places they occupy. Is this a conscious choice? Does your work have a specific narrative?

Yes, I have a very clear idea of my subject, and unless there is a technical problem, the photos themselves are produced fairly quickly. I try to create an interaction and a link between my subjects. In staging myself multiple times in the same image, I want to give the impression of being different characters that are interacting with each other.

What do you enjoy most about photography as a means of self-expression?

I would say the manipulation of the image and being able to simultaneously express myself while being hidden.

Have you discovered anything about yourself or your surroundings through your work?

I’ve been able to choose how to look at myself and to not be subjected to the gaze of another.

With the theme of this issue being Identity, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the concepts of identity and ambiguity in your work.

For me and my work, identity is several things. It is a plural; it cannot be one and constant. It is influenced by all the different factors around us and can change and evolve over a lifetime.

“We may want to reinvent ourselves to satisfy an understanding of who we are.”

What aspects of your work reflect your own identity?

I stage myself multiple times throughout my work, as I feel like there are so many different aspects of my personality and how I want to represent myself publicly. I’m still young and I’m not sure of who I am and who I want to be just yet.