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Things seen and unseen

October 28, 2009

The first time I remember seeing the phrase “things seen and unseen” was in Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s The Thread that Binds the Bones [awesome author!], but I likely ran across it earlier without it making much of an impression. The phrase holds particular resonance for me because I believe I myself have often been a thing both seen and unseen, maybe even simultaneously.

I’ve been taking photographs for at least 25 years, but until fairly recently, I was mostly content to be the subject of photographs when my husband remembered to include me. Well, I dropped hints occasionally, about the sorts of photographs I wanted him to take of me [candid, but in certain settings, like perched on a favorite boulder, or hugging a friendly tree], but those generally did not materialize. I’ve done quite a few posed pictures for him, but there’s a reason I’m not a model, and that’s never what I longed for. No, what I wanted was pictures of me being me, and those, taken by others (my mother, interestingly enough, has taken a few) are rare.

Since we moved to the Northeast, I started taking self portrait photographs. They arose from an interest in shadows and reflections, but I quickly realized I could use both, but especially shadows, to capture myself being me. It’s such a simple idea, I’m amazed it never occurred to me before. But further thought and I know why. When I lived in Indiana (and even in Illinois), I was almost always camouflaged. Drawing attention to myself invited danger, so I avoided doing so.

So here and now, I want to be seen, not just what I physically look like, but through my own words, and my art.

Here, I can relax. I can own my past, but not feel imprisoned by it. I can be the person I’m becoming.

One place online I found a safe space was the blog Slacktivist, where I have been pseudonymous as “Laima” (the Lithuanian goddess of weaving and fate). Hello, Slacktivite visitors!

And just today, I experimented with my new gorillapod to take photographs of me that are not shadows or reflections, and got several appealing results (on Flickr). More experiments will surely follow…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2009 20:13

    Interesting post. We moved to the NE several years ago as well and enjoy the seasons (more than the people unfortunately).

  2. October 28, 2009 22:08

    Where did you move from?

    I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and took for granted the heterogeneity. Moving to central Indiana caused major culture shock that I never really adjusted to.

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