BUTTERFLIES / CHAPTER 4 In Ancient Greece, drifting souls were often represented by butterflies symbols. This was a direct link to Psyche, the soul goddess, who was similarly depicted with delicate Lepidoptera wings. When looking for a title for my work on the mental condition, I wanted a word that elevated the individuals I had met above the stale socially created traumas and stigmatizations, which had ruined their lives. The word “Butterflies” soon imposed itself as an image of a delicate but radiant state of being. A description of freedom constantly terrorized by the outside world and an unstable condition made splittable by a misplaced caress. This soul vulnerability constantly immersed in fear became my main obsession while photographing the men and women frozen in institutions or healing centers. CHAPTER 4 (INDONESIA) In their cages, enslaved by chains, past the other’s indifferent abuse, apparent animals are holding onto a dying humanity. Others are dreaming of freedom through the ingestion of a primal state.
I call myself a documentary photographer although I sometimes feel uneasy when categorized in this manner. Most photographers who have influenced my work are in a documentary tradition because their focus is on reality, human beings, their bodies, faces, the social or economical conditions they find themselves in. Whether subjectively interpreted or not, I feel that their raw material comes from a a reality that leaves traces. Documentary photography has a certain smell that I like my work to have. On on a more personal level I sometimes I think of photography as Winnicot’s transitional object: An object you create that fills a void or empties space. An object that has no function and means nothing but is affectively charged. Though this object is useless, it is important in channeling existential traumas and creating an abstraction out of a nerve noisy reality. For some photographers, it is about being there fully in reality and being compassionate. It is also about feeling and capturing an essence. To me it is about re experiencing an awkward distance. Something happens when you photograph a human being and know that you should be compassionate. You know the situation asks for a stronger link but your breathing is calm and steady.You ask yourself questions why this ambiguity exists. What are the ways that you have to relate to others. If the distance is strange and in my case I feel it is, you work around the coma and you ask yourself why you do not care. The truth is that I am like most people who grew up looking at pictures and films of the 80’s ethiopian famine, I am used to them and find no way to relate to them. The only thing I need is to see them for myself. Pictures allow you to know something exists but do not replace the act of seeing for yourself. So I started a quest of putting myself in connection with hardcore pain and difficult life conditions. I wanted to know if it ever would wake me up from my emotional inertia. When will I finally be able to realize the level of pain someone else feels without automatically censoring it to the dark depth of my soul. I do not feel it is my role to be ethical. I am not a judge, a policeman or a politician. I prefer to come close to human perversions and in this respect, I would call myself a very unethical photographer. I have taken picture of pain charged humans without the slightest intention to save them or help them. I could have played the trauma or guilt game that a lot of photographers like to fool profanes with but in truth I get a kick out of helping people scream on my pictures. When their pain is on my pictures, my anger is with them but not in me. The more the pain is captured in its essence, the more the picture gives a voice to my anger. Naturally my anger is nothing compared to their pain and I should be at their service canceling anything I would possibly want to express. That is why I am highly unethical. I use people’s pain to express myself. I take pictures to make people feel all sorts of bad stuff when I could very well accept things as they are and let people live peacefully. Perhaps that a human being was first made to survive and then to link. It is the range in which the crocodile state (our reptilian surviving roots) and the social animal must coexist. Ethics are optional. Knowing one’s self is more important.