A Woman Is Always An Island, ongoing
a woman both exists and is obliterated.
- Rebecca Solnit
More info on this project below. All who identify as women are invited to participate in this ongoing project. Please contact serrah (at) serrahrussell.com
A woman is a paradox. She is and she isn't; often an ongoing contradiction, as a means of survival.
A Woman Is Always An Island is a new photographic series representing the female emotional narrative as visualized in portraits of diversely different women floating above and beneath the surface of natural bodies of water.
This work is a new path in my continued pursuit to understand and visualize how emotional experience arises from surrounding landscape, how who we are is influenced by where we are. In this work, body and water will collage together as women of diverse cultures, races, age, and experience are photographed individually within natural bodies of water that hold personal significance. As they float above and drift below, revealing some while concealing even more beneath the dark waters surface, these women represent their existence within a liminal space. These women’s bodies appear as a temporary island, as a constant hovering between appearing and disappearing, being born and dying. The work asks the question, “What is to survive in a liminal space?”
To tell this story properly, a diversity of women is essential, as is photographing within waters (lakes, rivers, ponds, ocean) that hold personal significance for the women being photographed. The act of being photographed is in itself a ritual and add to that the act of jumping into open, cold, raw water and it can become an act of healing, a baptism of sorts. Natural water is not necessarily safe, it is neither contained or controlled. We are unable to see what is beneath the surface and that requires a level of trust, just as the act of being photographed includes a risk of exposure and collaboration between subject and photographer.
Throughout these photo shoots, the women and I will discuss stories of womanhood, of experiences, allowing for the act to bring healing and presence, and for the conversations to merge with the experience of being within the landscape, letting emotional memory become one with the visualization of the surrounding landscape. Video footage will become key to tie the visuals and the voices and sounds together, creating a web of stories, experiences, revealing both similarities and differences.
These works are not mine. They are always an act of collaboration. The women participants are placing their bodies within the landscape, opening themselves up and meditating on their stories as they float and drift, maintaining balance, constantly in between sinking and arising, appearing and disappearing.
‘A Woman is Always an Island’ is a natural progression forward in my work, as I continue to investigate the place of the body within landscape through the act of photography. But this work is also a radical step forward to something new, as I collaborate with a large group of individuals, incorporating video and sound to tell a larger story based on other’s individual personal experience. I am working larger and more long-term because I believe that these stories need to be told and that the radical strength of women who constantly exist within liminality should be seen.