An Avatar and Self-Portraiture

I’ll be doing my film shoot with stage actress Marianna Bassham in early Sept., and it’s got me brainstorming about other possible depictions and interpretations of depression. One of the main reasons I initially wanted to collaborate with Marianna was because I saw her as my “avatar”, a way for me to realize this subject matter through someone else in order to take one step away from myself.

The potential ideas I have are still pretty raw, so at this point, everything is under consideration, no matter how “out there” it may seem. Primarily I’ve been thinking about ways to visually describe/explain the “ascent” into the falling and shaking figures. I was talking to one of my friends a few weeks back who had a thought that many centuries ago when it was common for people to believe in evil spirits, that mental illness could have likely been explained as being possessed by an evil spirit. I immediately connected this to my project, that the escalation into the falling and shaking stage is similar to being taken over by a violent spirit, which has an energy and force that exceeds the physical limits of the body. The acceleration to the falling and shaking stage is extraordinarily fast, which is why this idea of a spirit taking over seems to fit well.

From here I started thinking about Marianna as that spirit, and the possibility of introducing a self-portrait component into the project. The essential idea would be to somehow overlap images of myself with Marianna in the drawings, with her “inhabiting” my body during the falling and shaking stage. The idea of introducing the self-portrait into this project is a little frightening to me; it’s been over 12 years since I’ve done a self-portrait, and I’ve been intentionally avoiding self-portraits simply because I did so many awful self-portraits when I was an undergraduate student at RISD. At the same time, the self-portrait could be the most honest and direct way to talk about this subject matter, and part of me knows that my fear is likely an indication that this could be the way to go.

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