“Relationships are titled (Mother, Father, Niece, Friend, Lover, Hometown, Prey,) but these categories tell us so little about the intricacies and nuances of relationships we have and hold that are constantly in flux…” – Picbod.org
Relationships; fixed and fluid
I think this was my favourite lecture so far, the majority of the lesson was spent looking at Laia Abril’s Epilogue, which is a fascinating project based on Cammy, a young woman who tragically died from bulemia, an eating disorder.
I found this story so powerful, I had to get my hands on a copy of the photo book to look at it further in my own time.
This project has a powerful narrative that I found wasn’t clouded by confusing vagueness like what is found in many photo books. The narrative was clear, well mapped out despite you jumping forwards and backwards in time. As well as images of Cammy and her family, the book included letters, newspaper articles and other documents consoling the family which really hit you. The intensions behind the book was to raise awareness for Bulimia.
What I found interesting about this book was the way Abril documented the family, as well as interviews, photos of family gatherings such as fathers day were included, which almost respond to a letter from Cammy’s brother who was worried about his parents on a day like this and him being their only child now.
Although these images do not offer anything particularly significant to the narrative, they give you an insight into the family’s life today, which build up emotion and intimacy between the story and the viewer.
I found the image below particularly hard hitting, after seeing the family interacting with one another and being introduced to the characters, a single image opposite a blank page draws you to a stop. The weather is bleak, raining, we guess its a view from their home but really we know its not whats in the frame that we’re looking at, its an emotion.
In the Skype interview we watched, Abril describes the family as ‘unwilling witnesses’, the book deals with the guilt, regrets and misunderstandings of Cammy’s family and friends and of course their relationships.
We start to see a relationship between Abril and Cammy within the project, despite them never meeting.
Abril explained how she had to gain trust with the family, handling Cammy’s story must have been difficult but Abril explained that she was always honest and open about what she was doing and that meant the family trusted her giving her everything she wanted and needed to tell her story.
Abril explained that she never judged the family either way, this would have been important because the mother especially feels so much guilt with what happened, they were so brave to open up like this and they must have believed in by doing this, it helped others and the families suffering with eating disorders.
Carucci is well known for documenting relationships, her family and husband in “Closer” and now her and her children in “Mother”
Closer was a project that captured intimate parts of carucci’s life that I find make you feel uncomfortable because of how open they are. They included images of her mother and father, Carucci’s body, her and Eran, giving a very real and intimate view of her life and relationships with these characters.
Mother now looks at her relationship with her children. The images are staged, reenacting events that have previously happened. Some disapprove of this, saying that they are staged and not real but Carucci explains that when she looks at the captured scenes that have been performed she sometimes feels shocked at how uncanny they are, and if she doesn’t feel this way, she doesn’t publish them. This is an alternative way of documenting a relationship, but I think its still truthful in some ways, Carucci knows her children best and if thats how she feels that event looked, well then she’s the one that should know.
I think relationships can be awkward to photograph, people change for the camera, so is it ever going to be a truthful representation of what its like being with that person, that relationship. Will a photograph butcher that relationship, like me trying to speak french, will a frame capture the intimacy, the small details that make a relationship what it is.
If we photograph the inanimate objects, locations and surroundings of the relationships does this paint a truer picture? this does leave space for the people to ‘be in’ and these things won’t change at the sight of a camera.