Supernova: “an astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of a massive star's life, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final titanic explosion. This causes the sudden appearance of a "new" bright star, before slowly fading from sight.”
SuperNova is an emotionally charged body of work produced between 2000-2017 and it’s ongoing. It is a series of self portraits taken in Germany, France and Switzerland – a reference to the way my father used to “escape” when he tried to find his identity by means of travel.
Out of the blue in 1993, at age 52, my father committed suicide.
I have never fully recovered from the shock.
But I have found a way to live on.
The world keeps on turning.
Thinking about my father’s death is like watching the supernova of a dying star. NASA explains this very simply: “When a star explodes, it shoots elements and debris into space. Many of the elements we find here on Earth are made in the core of stars. These elements travel on to form new stars, planets and everything else in the universe.”
I am one of the elements left by my father.
By juxtaposing the images of myself with the composites of dying stars kindly shared by NASA’s/ ESA, I want to draw a parallel between myself, my father’s explosive life and the universe. A father I only had a very short time with. A father who faded from my life. A father who still exists in fragments and memories.
The work is an expression of grief as well as hope. It is a physical representation of “hanging in there” touching the ground and being present - or paralysis and awe. As Josh Shipp puts it “what we can’t speak out we act out”. Some of the work has a humorous element too and is inpired by the fake deaths in the film “Harold and Maude (1971)”.
More universally the project aims to raise awareness about the psychological symptoms of derealisation (unreality of the outside world) and depersonalisation (the experience of unreality in one’s self) - an experience that has become more common in the 21st century due to our pace of life/technology.
This is an opportunity to continue the dialogue on photography’s capacity for change and interdisciplinerary practice.
The initial self portraits were taken on slide film in 2000 hidden in the attic and emerging again when I first saw a depiction of a supernova taken through the Hubble telescope.
The compostites here were finally produced in 2017 when I was able to talk openly about the suicide of my father for the first time. There are over 20 more slides available for more composites to grow on an ongoing basis.
I see the work projection mapped onto two adjacent walls as in the ‘vision’ provided below. Finally, I would like sound art to accompany the piece.