utorak, 5. ožujka 2013.

Lauren E. Simonutti - The Devil's Alphabet & 8 Rooms, 7 Mirrors, 6 Clocks, 2 Minds & 199 Panes of Glass

Year's End 2008-2011 Sequential

here there be monsters

Izolirati se zbog shizofrenije i biti u društvu 8 soba, 7 ogledala, 6 satova, 2 uma i 199 prozorskih stakala. I onda to fotografirati.




A tribute to: Lauren E. Simonutti (1968-2012)

Lauren E. Simonutti, 1968, USA, passed away last week due to complications from her illness. On March 28th, 2006 she started hearing voices and was diagnosed with "rapid cycling, mixed state bipolar with schizoaffective disorder". She felt she was going mad and spent her last years almost in isolation. She turned the camera on herself and the space she was living in. She has left us with an impressive, honest and strong body of work. With her photographs she gave a voice to those that suffer in isolation.
"Over (five) years I have spent alone amidst these 8 rooms, 7 mirrors, 6 clocks, 2 minds and 199 panes of glass. And this is what I saw here. This is what I learned. I figure it could go one of two ways - I will either capture my ascension from madness to as much a level of sanity for which one of my composition could hope, or I will leave a document of it all, in the case that I should lose." - Lauren E. Simonutti
The following images come from the series The Devil's Alphabet and 8 Rooms, 7 Mirrors, 6 Clocks, 2 Minds & 199 Panes of Glass.



Who are you? Where are you from and where do you live now?
lauren e. simonutti, born in NJ, currently residing in Baltimore, MD

biding time

What is it that you do? What media do you use?
I am a traditionalist.  I shoot large format, (4x5, 5x7, and 8x10).  As to film I will shoot any black and white film; whatever is available, whatever is most affordable.

What do you think sets your work apart?
That is not for me to say.  I shoot from my own perspective, how it is interpreted is up to the viewer.

Confounded by Time
How long have you been showing your work for? Did you have a “big break?”
I first started showing my work in 1987.  I sought shows fairly regularly up until about 2000 when I simply lost interest in that aspect of it.  I stopped seeking shows and just worked.  After a time I started posting my work on the web.
My break came in 2009 on two fronts.  I was selected to be an international featured exhibitor for the Ballarat Biennale in Australia.  They flew me out there, gave me an auditorium to give a lecture, and a gallery space and a very large audience in people who attended the festival.  I am still actively involved in Australia, including lecturing at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology whenever I can get down there.  I aspire to go every year.  On the home front and at the same time Catherine Edelman of Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago saw some of my work online, it was a link to an online interview I did with an organization called LensCulture based in Paris.  She contacted me and asked if I would like representation.  She had actually refused my work in 2006 when I submitted it to her gallery, which was just about the best thing that could have happened, in the three years that followed my work improved tremendously.  By the time she found me, I was ready, the work was ready.  I could  not have hoped for better.

Contemplating Daybreak
What are some things that have inspired you?
 try to look at everything.  I am inspired by what I read- Paul Auster, Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick; I am tremendously influenced by Surrealism, DaDa, Bauhaus, individuals such as Bellmer, Remedios Varo, Goya, Vesalius, Bacon, Odd Nerdrum.  I spend a great deal of time looking at paintings and as well as primitive and pan-Pacific ancient art.

What have you been working on recently?
I have been working continuously over the past several years shooting exclusively in my home which due to circumstance I seldom leave.  Isolation records well on film.  My current project, begun with the new year is called 'No such thing as silence' which is a reflection of my bipolar with schizoaffective disorder, one side affect of which is that I hear voices and have since March 28, 2006.  I am aware of the fact that they are not real, but that does not mean I do not still hear them.  Since that day there has never been a day of silence for me.


Do you listen to music while you create your work? If so, would you give some examples?
No.  I only listen to music when I am printing or souping film, never when shooting.


Do you do work in any other media? Other projects not necessarily related to your main body of work?
I am a bookbinder as well.  I make books as objects in their own right as well as vessels to contain various series of photographs.
Self Portrait

What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?
I am hesitant to offer advice.  What works for one does not necessarily work for others.  My decision to withdraw my photographs from public exhibition yielded in the strongest work I have ever done, but that was an extreme and not for everyone.  I do caution people to carefully vet their choices; many calls for submission are simply vehicles to raise revenue.  I do not advise people to pay to show their work.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions of your work that you can mention?
I have no exhibitions planned at the moment.

Trial and Error
Where can people see more of your work on the internet?
 Writer's Block
8 rooms, 7 mirrors, 6 clocks, 2 minds & 199 panes of glass

Madness strips things down to their core.  It takes everything and in exchange offers only more madness, and the occasional ability to see things that are not there.
03.28.06  There were so many beginnings I had to choose one, and since this is a story of anniversaries 03.28.06 seemed the most appropriate.  That is the day I began to hear voices.  Three of them, quite distinct.  Two are taunting and the third voice is mine, as I have heard it externally, on a tape recording or answering machine.  That voice has some reserve, it seldom makes itself heard.  The others are a constant.  They all live in my right ear which rather makes sense as I spontaneously went deaf in that ear a decade ago and it has been vacant ever since.  As time and treatment progressed they have stopped screaming and contribute only a dull murmur.  Except at bedtime, at bedtime they like to sing. It presents itself as a sing-song - Rapid cycling, mixed state bipolar with schizoaffective disorder.
The problem with madness is that you can feel it coming but when you tell people you think you are going crazy they do not believe you.  It is too distant a concept.  Too melodramatic.  You don’t believe it yourself until you have fallen so quickly and so far that your fingernails are the only thing holding you up, balanced with your feet dangling on either side of a narrow fence with your heart and mind directly over center, so that when you do fall it will split you in two.  And split equally.  So there’s not even a stronger side left to win.
I began to break time down.
Smaller and smaller parcels are easier to digest, easier to recognize, easier to bear.
This would be the math:
4 birthdays
3 + 1/2 years
42 months
1307 days (taking into account the leap year)
1,882,080 minutes
112,924,800 seconds
I would anatomize it further but it might make me appear obsessive.
The misfirings of my beloved/despised mind that conspire to convince me to destroy all have rendered me housebound and led to a solitary life.  A creature of past, proof, memory and imaginary friends,  I am aware enough to know the things I see and hear are not real, but that does not mean I do not still see and hear them. 
Over three and one half years I have spent alone amidst these 8 rooms, 7 mirrors, 6 clocks, 2 minds and 199 panes of glass.  And this is what I saw here.  This is what I learned.

Working Process - From the Sketchbook

working process #6 - Bent

working process #7 - Resume

A little bit disconcerting

I despise job hunting.


'Drowning, not waving' opens her own FB page
(Being unaware of the gender of books I made an educated guess.)

Absence of Memory (200?)

“The idea of a house built so that people could become lost in it is perhaps more unusual than that of a man with a bull’s head, but both ideas go well together and the image of the labyrinth fits with the image of the Minotaur. It is equally fitting that in the center of a monstrous house there be a monstrous inhabitant.” –Borges


A house, to which one expects to return but does not, becomes a relic.

I stepped out of the door one day for what I expected would be a moment and did not return for weeks. Never did return intact. The impetus for this absence is a fascinating, devastating, poignant and decidedly tragic story, which I will not relate here.
You can, however, see it in the walls.

It isn’t much of a house. It is a delicate wreck of a house. And I was rebuilding it. I built a number of rooms very quickly. Beautiful rooms, hopeful rooms, not just patch and plaster but exceptional rooms-painted gardens, a ceiling spiral of stars, book pages covering the walls. Other walls aged, layer over layer of paint and crackling, icons visible, etched like hieroglyphics-a rabbit, an eye. Floors worked into a chessboard grid with book pages, illustrated, illuminated, heavily shellacked onto the surface so I could walk across without disturbing them. Neither need nor occasion to turn a page.

Upon my return I looked at my home as if it belonged to a stranger. I live a solitary existence so the things I had left, as I had left them, were all that remained to speak for me. Casually misplaced, awry, askew and adrift, arranged, displayed, collected.
Collecting dust.

I do not remember having put it all together, though I know I had done. So I decided to let the rooms have their say. Memory of who I once was. Parts of the best parts of me.

The house, my home, mirrors me. Tragedy in reverse.
It had fallen apart before I found it.
I am falling it back together.

And so it ends

The set has been struck. 'Spirit photograph: Departure'
Spirit photograph:  Departure

The truth about mirrors

Spirit photograph - Interiors
Spirit photograph-Interiors

Working with mirrors is more a matter of luck than anything else. This one was a gift-first try. But I cannot count how many negatives I have shot over the years that have me, posing dramatically in gown or straight jacket, next to a mirror majestically reflecting a light socket or bit of ceiling fan.

Spirit Photographs

(after Mumler)

Holding Hands
'Holding hands' (spirit photography)

There is a book 'The Perfect Medium: Photography and theOccult' with a tremendous selection of spirit photographs. (Best one, Mary Todd in widows weeds with the ghost of her beloved Abe Lincoln). They are absurd but people believed them because there was the perception of photography as truth, and they had faith. So do I, in my own way, which is why I spent yesterday pushing all the furniture in the green room into the hall and made a theater. Today I set the stage.

Spirit photograph:  Puppet

No Exit
No Exit

Time out of joint
Spirit photograph-Time out of joint

Curtain Call
Curtain call
 Sixth year birthday-me, myself + I

2010: Tomorrow is my birthday and I have tired of this room.
No such thing as silence.  (The 5th year)

2009: Bring the candle to the flame.
Bring the candle to the flame

2008: Birthday girl. (Eaten by the walls).
birthday 3, 2 days past- eaten by the walls

2007: Tomorrow is my birthday and things are much the same.
tomorrow is my birthday and things are much the same

These are where it began. The only time there were two. When I lost the last people in my life I threw myself a party.

Tomorrow is my birthday and all my friends are here.
tomorrow is my birthday and all my friends are here
'And my, how we laughed'.
and my, how we laughed

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