Monday, September 22, 2014

. . . there is no self-portrait without confession. The author of the self-portrait does not show himself, . . . does not lead one to knowledge, he admits a fault and asks for forgiveness. . . . At the moment when the self-portraitist fends off the temptations of sight and calls for this conversion from the light to the light, from the outward realm to the realm within, it is a theory of the blind that unfolds. --Jacques Derrida, Memoires of the Blind

When I was in 8th grade I remember being in the girls locker room after being dropped off for a middle school dance. Not my first: but, being the final year of middle school, one of my last.

I was dropped of by, maybe, one of my parents with ________. Before leaving the girl's locker room to enter the gymnasium there was a very large, full length mirror besides the sinks leading out. I stood there next to ________ flipping our hair, adjusting our shirts, checking our waist's profile and all the typical, obligatory final adjustments you can view Molly Ringwald doing in any John Hughes movie.

As I mimed my way through these motions all I could focus on was our faces. Her face was so much more clear than mine! I could see it like it was etched into my eyeballs. I would shift my glance over to my reflection and saw a mist. It was like my face was covered by fog. The edges of my jaw, softened and undefined as if drawn with pastels then wiped once with the drawer's hand. It seemed like my eyes were small charcoal blobs. Why was her face so clear? And hers? > And hers? > And hers? >

I turn 31 in the beginning of November and I feel like my face is still partially hidden behind fog. Albeit, now for reasons other than my physicality but these bedimmed components greatly impact upon it.


I am finding expectations in strange places. They are more than likely of my own creation but still feeling them doesn't make them any less real for me.

My blurry face has become my blurry identity; my blurry identity has impacted my ever fogged face.

I am not what people expect when meeting me. I've been told. Very bluntly. 

It was initially a relief. The way I was presenting myself in unspoken reality and online was a sort of intimidation for many people. That I was very [this] way and could never be [that] way. I am always introduce as, "this is my friend Ash, she's an amazing photographer." Something that actually makes me very uncomfortable. I'm instantly labeled as an "artist" and feel like I need to perform as such. 

However, being an extremely shy and quiet child/teenager/adult the intimidation secretly (now not so secretly) made me...happy. I was, if not more so, happy to show people how approachable and easy going I was/am though.

The danger is that I am left to swim in my thoughts far too often and the more I feel like I'm showing my true self (or at least as much true self as my anxiety can muster) I've tarnished another one of my selves. A self that people might not think actually exists now seeing me move and hearing me talk: a self that deserves artistic and intellectual respect.

It's difficult feeling like you're part of a collection and valued for what you do but not particularly for who you are: who you are doesn't compete with what people see in the images. 

I'll play cat and mouse with my sexual identity, inciting some deeper workings in images then be in a group of people and tell fart jokes. 

The more I think on this the more my images are impacted. For better. For worse. I fight to find an honest and authentic voice and worried if the voice is merely just trying to be accepted as something that is expected of me.

I'm a big disappointment. 

"I'm a fraud!" 

I think like this any time I meet someone new being introduced as, "this is my friend Ash, the amazing photographer" - and then I open my mouth. 

I've come to a point where I feel -- 

People expect this:

When I really want to show you this:

And I feel like I certainly can't show you this:

Whether I'm duping myself into thinking I need to be a certain kind of person or if it's a real expectation from people; what the fuck are all my different selves for if I can't share, or at least, be honest and most of all comfortable about them? Does one unattractive, awkward, fat, tired, drunk, crying or goofy image take away from my desires and intellectual integrity? Does it take away from my allure? Does the fact that I am not a talkative person nor a person who is good at talking to people make me any less interesting or valuable once you can get me talking to you? Does it all really make me what all the little voices inside of my head telling me I am, true?

This is where I show you this:

This is how I still feel when I look at myself in the mirror.

For my vulnerabilities, my strengths, my humor, my kindness, my selfishness, my intellect, my dark side, my light side, my punk, my class, my desires, my vanities, my anger, my weaknesses, for my woman, for my girl:

My selves are so confused. And worried. And scared. 

This is my asking for forgiveness. A question I will be asking for eternity


I don’t really want to become normal, average, standard. I want merely to gain in strength, in the courage to live out my life more fully, enjoy more, experience more. I want to develop even more original and more unconventional traits” 

― Anaïs NinThe Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934