Frame of Mind
‘An inherent part of the mind is its capacity of reflecting both the outside world and oneself and to put both into context to each other. Frame of Mind reflects on this capacity of reflection through portraits made in cooperation with people who experience mental health problems. Statistically 1 in 4 people experience mental health difficulties in the United Kingdom each year. All participants of the project are photographed in South Wales, either at their home or at places where they seek help such as charities supporting them. Each portrait is framed by a context which relates to the represented person, evoking something that impacts positively on their condition or expresses their distress. Many of the represented people draw, paint or write which helps them both objectifying or also avoiding disturbing thoughts:
Christopher A. Palmer who calls himself Crispy Newpoet would for example express his feelings in a poem the complex structure of which is built from the letters of his name.
‘Crona Dargarth UE’ paints a castle called Miranda over and over again, stating: “…it must be some romantic madness of mine, my soul in her cellar she keeps, to love a building as if it were human, fair and beautiful is the Asylum of my Dreams…”.
Jerry who established a peer support group for people with mental health difficulties in Newport, writes poems asking questions such as: ‘Is nothing anything or not, or just something we have forgot? Is it emptiness of the mind or something lost you cannot find?’.
The personal element implicated by each individual is explicated in visual form using a two-way mirror that appears in all photographs and is mostly held by the subject. Also called see-through mirror, it is an acrylic glass with a transparency-reflection ratio that shifts proportionally to the ratio of light in front and behind it, and allows to visually overlay the mirrored image with the background. This two-way mirror provides the platform for individual expression. Emphasising the cooperation between photographer and photographed, the two-way mirror is the surface where the viewpoints of both merge into one.’
‘In the 25th hour,
Of the 8th day,
Of the 5th week,
In the 13th month,
I was talking to a creature that hasn’t been created,
In a language I don’t know.
It said to me, you humans don’t know much.
I said, we are smarter than you think:
We love, care and forgive.
Christoph Soeder is currently studying Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales, Newport. In 2012 Christoph obtained the 2nd award ‘Close Up! – Young Photojournalists at the 62nd Berlinale’ and exhibited his work together with other participants of the programme at C/O Berlin. In 2013/14 his book ‘Clear-Cut’ was shortlisted for the Unseen Dummy Award and exhibited at the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam as well as in Tokyo with the Brighton-based arts organisation Photobookshow. In 2014 Christoph was part of the A Fine Beginning group exhibition ‘Made in Wales’ held at Arcade Cardiff and Oriel Colwyn Gallery. In November 2014 Christoph took part in the ‘Open for Business‘ exhibition in Newport/Wales presented by Magnum Photos and Multistory.
James O Jenkins