[Image: Eight photographs: a pair of feet hovering over bedding cast in a sliver of light, a series of black and white portrait photos of the same person arranged on pink fabric, hands clutching at pink sheets, an eye reflected in a small square surface that a hand is holding up, an empty double bed, floral bed sheets, a black and white photo in an old gold frame, the sillhouette of a veiled figure reflected in a dusty surface]
Marwah Al-Mugait undertook to examine mental health issues in her home town of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. No mean task, indeed it is not a subject that attracts many photographers, if any.
Her project focuses on Mona, who Marwah says, “bravely opened all the locked doors into her private life and revealed 27 years of living with bipolar disorder.”
Throughout the course Marwah’s work has developed from purely aesthetic images to those that have power and speak to the viewer. Yet she has retained an eye for visual beauty and ensured her pictures are compelling and draw the reader to the story itself.
Course leader Max Houghton agrees, saying, “Marwah has remained true to her aesthetics, we haven’t moulded her but allowed her to unfold herself, rather than saying this is Western photojournalism and this is what you do.”
This can be seen in her latest work. “As in any other country there is a growth in bipolar disorder in Saudi Arabia and I tried to go towards less shocking, less direct images,” Marwah recalls.
But through these moving and powerful images, we can see the subject grapple with the inner demons in her private home and in her day-to-day life… and through the clever use of camera, lens and lighting, we are invited to the subject’s inner reality. The content also exhibits and reflects an approach by the photographer that is without denial, without avoidance and without distortion.”
The project took time to come together and it was only after much searching and heading down a few dead ends that Marwah found Mona, as many of those she approached did not want to talk about their illness as it may jeopardise their position in society.
"Through this process I went to places I have never been nor expected go," Marwah says. "A psychiatry ward in a military hospital was shocking to witness even without photographing."
Marwah’s work is an intimate piece and the title, Mood Diary, reflects that well. It is not as such a piece of documentary photography, yet through it we can learn much and perhaps it will encourage further research and understanding.
"My aim was to symbolise what is going on in the mind of patient during the depression and mania," Marwah tells me. "John Darwell’s A Black Dog Came Calling, which describes an episode of depression, was one of my inspirations. Whilst visiting Mona I didn’t photograph directly, it was about knowing her and gaining her trust.” It was this that provides the series with a feeling of being a collaborative piece of work.
"You have to research deeply before you pick up your camera. I used to grab my camera and shoot, now I plan and research first, the last thing is taking the pictures," Marwah says. It is that research and understanding of subject that helps build confidence in having the right to actually enter someone else’s life with your camera. Without that you are little more than an intruder.
"You do feel extremely responsible," Marwah says. "How to present the story is delicate and in this case Mona did not want to be photographed directly, yet this is her first step to declare her mental problem."
"I think photojournalism can be criticised for looking at the miserable side of life and depressing issues," Max adds. "But I don’t think that is the right thing to criticise. I think that is to be praised and celebrated as photography can be a tool to discover and an extra sensory experience. It is more than visual and allows in other emotions, and in the right hands can tell stories differently." And Marwah’s work fits neatly into this sphere.
- fuckinmajestic likes this
- silmeheniel reblogged this from girlsgetbusyzine
- innocentkrutonz reblogged this from mindovermatterzine
- babybisbat reblogged this from girlsgetbusyzine
- cereal-for-supper reblogged this from mindovermatterzine
- trusweetguy69 likes this
- mysticalpsychosis reblogged this from girlsgetbusyzine
- iamawakenow likes this
- wickedkvnt likes this
- satyreetbacchante reblogged this from mindovermatterzine
- satyreetbacchante likes this
- sneakybrownoserhiddenagenda likes this
- babybisbat likes this
- hologram-grrl reblogged this from mindovermatterzine
- sleepinginflame reblogged this from girlsgetbusyzine
- boozer-cries likes this
- raven-crow-neversmiles likes this
- commie-unityacupuncture likes this
- cereal-for-supper likes this
- fauuun likes this
- roxanaazar likes this
- devilsspoke likes this
- justateenagemaniac likes this
- philtippett reblogged this from girlsgetbusyzine
- hannahscupofcare likes this
- girlsgetbusyzine reblogged this from yesysabella
- girlsgetbusyzine likes this
- spilt-laughter reblogged this from mindovermatterzine
- tofuckingordinary likes this
- yesysabella reblogged this from mindovermatterzine
- qiviut likes this
- zachsaysthings reblogged this from mindovermatterzine
- zachsaysthings likes this
- samwhys likes this
- dongbangchick reblogged this from mindovermatterzine
- dongbangchick likes this
- boneygoat likes this
- fjaved reblogged this from mindovermatterzine
- fjaved likes this
- failmilous likes this
- staceysmd reblogged this from mindovermatterzine
- somegirlsblog likes this
- mindovermatterzine posted this