Hello, good to see you. Today, we are going to look at four photographs by Brooke Shaden. In these pictures, we meet one woman. This is the artist herself. However, these self-portraits invite us – they invite us to become a part of them.
Yesterday, I passed some postcards. On one was written: ‘Does happiness find me?’
‘Searching’ and ‘finding’ are crucial parameters in our lives. Just think about your everyday, when did you search something on the internet today? Or on a greater scale: We search for the only one, for a good job and a pleasant home. And we hope to find it.
These four photographs by Brooke Shaden are also about searching. And I think they show us what we all can find. Maybe even some things we didn’t expect. These following questions might be helpful to us when looking at the photographs:
- What do the women search for and what do they find?
- How do they feel?
- Which picture attracts us most of all?
What do the women search for and what do they find?
In ‘Character untold’ we see a woman. But wait, we only see her partially. A book covers her face. And there are more books around her feet. They are all opened. She searches for something. And judging by the leaves flying away from her current book, she hasn’t found it yet.
This is different with the woman in ‘Discoveries’. She stands in front of a huge tree with a dark opening. We can well imagine how she wandered through the forrest and then found this tree. Compared to our book-woman, she has come closer to what she might have been searching for.
We find an opening also in ‘Reflection departed’. Surrounded by some meadows, we discover a woman hanging in a frame. But the upper part of her body is missing, just as the mirror which should be in the Frame. Now it lies in pieces in the gras.
We can assume what the woman intended, she wanted to see her own reflection, find herself. However, the search turned into something else then expected.
In ‘We are infinte’ the woman also stands in front of an opening. But she doesn’t disappear into it. In front of her there should be a wall. But someone has made a whole into it. Now, it opens to a spectacular sky.
How do they feel?
In these four photographs we meet women who are searching or who have already found something. Searching and finding, a couple. Every search is also paired with certain expectations. How we feel depends very much upon if our expectations are fulfilled or not. So, how do the women in the pictures feel?
The woman in ‘Character untold’ appears slightly desparate. She is looking for something in particular, but what if she doesn’t find it? In ‘Discoveries’ the woman remains in front of the dark opening. Maybe she is scared, I would be.
In ‘Reflection departed’ we can imagine how surprised the woman might have been. She doesn’t find the expected reflection and then she is even choked. There is something in this photograph I first see now. Behind the woman, there is a bright circle, the sun behind some thin clouds. This gives the pictures a rather positive sensation. Could this also count for the woman? Did she find something as good as her own reflection? A secret place just for herself.
In ‘We are infinite’ the woman could be surprised, too. Her body language tells us this. Most likely, she had been searching for an exit. But was she aware of where this new way would lead into? No matter, she must also feel relieved. An exit into the unknown or even familiar landscape.
Which picture attracts us most of all?
Is there one of the searching women that remind you of yourself? I feel very close to the one in ‘We are infinite’. It reminds me of my curent life situation. I looked for an exit with regards to my job. And then I found an opportunity I had never counted on, the opening in a wall.
How do we feel when we have searched and found something? Relieved or even changed? We look back on our search and realize how crucial this way has been. And now we have a task with regards to Brooke Shaden’s photographs. We have to think about what happens next to the women. And out of nothing, we are searching again, in this case for some ‘Happy Ends’ of these visual stories.