In search of self-compassion

The photograph on the left is one of the more experimental images I have produced to date, and all due a lighting fluke. It all began in and with my bootleg studio set-up, where I used one flashlight above and another one from below while the rest of the room was in complete darkness.
Did I know I would end up with this theatrical effect?
Of course not.
Was this what I was aiming for? Certainly not.
Do I like it?
Do I care that it is nothing like any of my previous work?
Absolutely not.

The conversation with my inner Frogtographer is one I carry on many times, but it became particularly dynamic yesterday evening when I re-edited the image from scratch with a completely different purpose in mind. While I was originally gunning for cinematographic effect, I ended up with this avantgarde zen peculiarity, and said to myself this is exactly what I want – vague lines, strong projection, and an invitation to make the viewer stop and think.

We live in strange times and when June rolled in this past Monday, I was absolutely horrified that half of 2020 has gone – but where on earth has it gone to? Our lives as we knew them came to a halt end of March, just when most of us had finished mapping out what we wanted to achieve the rest of the year, travel plans, budgets, project timelines. Then #lockdown2020 was enforced on all of us, and everything came to a standstill and someone threw out the rule book.

Two months later, many snacks and home experiments later, the restrictions are lifting, but the world seems to have gone completely mad. In Berlin, for example, just when we thought important ground had been won through commendable self-discipline, 3000 reckless people decide to have a techno party in on the river on Whit Monday , justifying the event that if everyone remained on their boats it would be fine. Stupidity to the highest degree, and words – polite or otherwise – fail me to voice my anger and frustration, not only at the organisers but also the participants.

Prior to that, the world watched in horror as George Floyd died at the hands of the very people and institution we are suppose to trust, catapulting not only the American society into yet another wave of turbulent social unrest, but many others countries around the world. I cannot and will not speak for other countries at the moment, but here in Berlin the ripple effects of George Floyd’s death are felt in palpable and volatile ways that are more than just unsettling. The ugly debate about social inequality and racism rears its ugly head once again, filling the streets with protest marches, slogans, riots, marches, and a universal questioning of values and social responsibilities. Inevitably, the counter movements are also out in full force, making me keenly aware and hypersensitive of my skin colour and cultural heritage.

  • It is not a matter of fear, but all about self-preservation.
  • How do we come to terms with our authentic selves now that we have been through a pandemic, been exposed to new options in terms of schooling and work, and revolutionised our fundamental communication skills for the sake of psycho-social survival?
  • How to we overcome the nagging feeling that the universe is trying to con us out of having a good time?

There are certainly no definitive answers to any of these issues or questions, and at the end of the day, it is a matter of personal choice – of embracing what works best for you, your unique self, that will lead you down the path of authenticity.

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