It’sNot Me, It’s You is a series of photographic self-portraits that emerged whilst exploring what C.G.Jung termed ‘the shadow’ part of the self. In other words the ‘dark’ part of me that I deny and project onto you. This is, in essence, the process that occurs when we seek to scapegoat another, culminating with the recipient of our projections being ‘cast out’ and, as a consequence, creating the illusion that our darkness resides elsewhere.
In thinking about the scapegoat, I decided to begin by looking at my physical reflection through the lens of a camera. I wanted to play with the idea of projecting myself and my shadow onto the world in the hope (and fear) that it might reveal something of myself in a new light. Playing in this way enabled me to think about how light casts shadows and creates reflections in much the same way as elements of our internal and unconscious selves do in the world around us.
I found that I could look at the resulting images in two distinct and opposite ways; not only did they capture my own projections on to the environment, they also contained elements of my environment projected on to me. What is reflected back at me is distorted and misshapen, barely recognisable, and I became acutely aware of how at odds these images of myself were with how I want to be seen in the world. With these ideas in mind, I was able to consider myself both as a perpetrator of projections and as a victim of them.
As an art therapist, I have found that developing a secure sense of identity and establishing an authentic way of inhabiting the environment is often foremost in the expression of the young people that I work with. As cross-cultural, inter-generational, and other similarly conflicting influences are being negotiated and wrestled with, the process of rejecting or assimilating projections seems to be at its height amongst this age group.
But seeing ourselves clearly isn't always easy. It was without intention that my images blurred the boundaries of what is environment, what is shadow, and what is reflection, and made it sometimes difficult to distinguish exactly where the edges were. Both as practitioner and as client, I continue to wonder where I end and you begin.