The following are the photographic prints exhibited as part of NO HANDS. The muse in the images is Lauren herself and the images are a result of a process we developed together as photographer-model.
Mike decided to group the work into four categories depicting four selected dimensions of living with depression. Those being Home, Face, Body and Emotion. The statements for these categories were written by Mike.
Lauren Michelle (being Muse)
In these photographs with Mike Stacey, Lauren Michelle sees her role as a muse as an extension of her independent artistry, using her body as another medium to express and hold emotion. Instead of perfecting and rehearsing precise posing, the method commonly found in commercial modelling practices, Lauren moves with a dance-like quality, and leaves room for creative error. She uses an internal awareness of mood as well as her body’s position in space, to relay connection between her body and face, to location and context, and back to the viewer. Lauren also contributed to ideas about the portrayal of depression in these images and the arrangement and settings of the photo-shoot.
Our connection. Our front. Our face.
Sometimes a veil, sometimes a direct and revealing insight. Often appearing fine and well on the outside, via highly developed mechanisms for veiling true feelings of shame and fear. Feelings of numbness and nothing, staring blankly without purpose. Privacy brings a lifting of the veil - facing away from light into shadow, head turned against the wall - resigned to this. And facing toward the light, window gazing, searching for answers, to this.
Fingers, hands, feet, legs, ribs… all reflect our self in some way. Nude vulnerability, hands curled, face hidden, retreat from the day. Thinking in endless circles, trying to find a way, a way to be, to be part of things. Twisted torso inner turmoil surfaces cyclically and dominates. Wrists upturned, towards surrender, giving up, limp. Internal organs; liver, lungs. Scars, bruises and tattoos insights into inner state and methods of expression through body
Quiet hours. Long hours. Empty hours. Day to day existence. Waiting, for something to happen. Empty rooms, house mates at work, the world at work. The day proceeds, event-less. The week, month and year proceeds similarly. Friends can become distanced, either through lack of awareness of depression and how to deal with a suffering friend. Agoraphobia can easily develop, the fear of going outside of the familiar home environment. Expressing how one feels to friends is usually avoided due to the associated shame or fear that friends either won’t understand or will even abandon the friendship.
Modern society provides little room for emotional expression. “Don’t be so emotional”. “Don’t get mad, get even”. We’re not taught how to deal with many of our emotions, other than to try and suppress them. It appears that most depression involves the numbing of emotions, especially grief, fear, anger and shame.
Depression occurs when these emotions loop back on themselves, having feelings about feelings, sometimes without limit. Feedback loops can produce emotions that are experienced as either unbearably painful or out of control, or at least anticipated to be. However, there is a zone between these two extremes that allows one to feel emotions and to also observe oneself feeling. This zone is possible because of the human capacity for role-taking; seeing one's self from the imagined point of view of another person. Research is currently investigating this phenomenon for possible drug-free treatments of the emotional aspects of depression.