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I had hopped that I would have the opportunity to bring to light through my photography images and story of Bipolor and Identity disorders. Black & White Photography Magazine gave me that opportunity when I won a Spot Light Award with my portfolio “Lost Identity” and my experience with someone dear to me afflicted with these disorders.
Black & White Photography Magazine Article
lnsights may come to an artist in unexpected ways and for unpredictable reasons. A photographer might start a project not knowing where it may eventually lead, but at some point, in the midst of shooting, will realize that it has come to represent something other than the initial concept. Such is the case with Patricia Turo and a body of work she has titled Lost Identity.
Turo began photographing models in a studio, rear-lit, their shadows falling onto a translucent screen. lt was an appealing visual idea, but the reason behind it was not initially apparent to her. As Turo explains, “At this time, someone in our family that I loved dearly was struggling with bipolar and identity disorder. The turmoil she experienced was devastating to her and to those who loved her. I felt totally lost and helpless in trying to understand the emotions, depression and struggle that she was experiencing. I found myself grieving because the person I loved I could no longer identify with.”
“lt wasn’t until after I had taken the photographs and uploaded them that I realized that the mood of the images helped me to understand what she was going through. lt is hard to explain the emotional impact the images had on me. I was struggling to understand how she must have been dealing with her disorder, and up to this point I couldn’t imagine it. The photographs helped me to grasp the depth of her feelings.” The history of art is filled with depictions of artists or their subjects facing mental disorders. Van Gogh’s self-portraits, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and Francisco de Goya’s disquieting depictions in his Los Caprichos prints are several that come readily to mind. Visualizations of people suffering from these terrible diseases of the psyche are difficult to look at, as well as difficult to portray. That is why some artists use metaphors to represent them. And in many instances it is through metaphor that we may get a better understanding of the dissociation inherent in these disorders. Turo says, “Of course, we could never really put ourselves in that place, so the images helped me imagine what it must be like. They enlightened me, which helped me to have compassion in dealing with the difficult events that occurred in regards to her. ”
Turo’s photographs also help lend us some enllghtenment regarding the agony of a dissociative illness. ln all of the Lost ldentity images we see that the silhouette projected onto the screen is human and female. She is at times in sharp relief and at other times blurred and indistinct, suggesting the nature of her internal struggle. Her gestures and postures often appear defensive and broken, helping us to interpret the representative shadow as being separate and alone. The screen between the figure and viewer alludes to the divide between those overwhelmed by their disorder and those loved ones left on the opposite side, able only to observe what is coming to pass.
Although we understand that the true nature of any internal disintegration can more accurately be depicted through clinical images. For most of us it’s the metaphor that allows a more sympathetic and emotive understanding, and because ultimately, unless an artist has suffered from a mental disorder, she or he can never really know how to express it, except through analogy. lt’s through this approximation that the artist may deliver, to the viewer, a sense of the experience.
“l wanted to use the photos to bring visibiity to the issue of bipolar and identity crisis, ” Turo explains. ” I hope that others viewing them and who have had the same experience will become more aware of how desperate the person affected is and the helplessness that the whole family feels. Love and support are vital durlng this time to bring that person to a place where they can stabilize, find themselves and reconnect.”
– Larry Lytle
Black & White Photography Magazine, issue 115 can be found in bookstores world-wide or ordered by contacting the magazine.