Oscar is my best friend, my carer and my husband. Oscar es mi amor. Oscar is a doting uncle, a loving brother, a kind son. Oscar is a meticulous student, a multimedia artist and a composer. Oscar is a Neurodiverse, mixed-race, British, cis, man. Oscar is a second-generation Jamaican immigrant. Oscar is anxious, thoughtful and just. He is all of these things but none of these descriptions captures him in the way a photograph can.
This series explores the intimacy of photography and the relationship between the photographer and the subject. This series uses film photography, photo collage and digital layering to depict the many identities that make up one individual, whilst contrasting the private, interior person with the public, exterior persona. As I am chronically ill and disabled, Oscar has also now become my carer. This uniquely close relationship allows me the time and freedom to create images not only of Oscar but about him.
Oscar is not easy to photograph, he finds it hard to relax, he retreats into an uncanny stance and expression. It takes work to draw him back out. When other photographers shoot him, however beautiful the result, the subject often looks unfamiliar. This image captures Oscar at the time this was written, he will change and become different versions of himself, but this version is now distilled in this image.
We reject the dualism of western metaphysics. Our bodies are ourselves and we cherish their vulnerability and strength.
Light Leak / Mi Amor
Film cameras leave unique markings, there are markings of each camera on the images they produce, there are flickers of their origin but the images exist beyond and without the camera. Like a film photograph we all carry markers of our beginnings but they are just a small part of our whole.
Teaching me to listen
Oscar makes decision with other people in mind. He cares about justice, about how his actions and decision affect other people. He challenges his own assumptions or possible prejudices. I'm learning to do the same.
5.36pm each day
Oscar’s watch has an alarm that goes off at 5.36pm each day. It was set by mistake and it could be turned off. This alarm has been going off at the same for 3 years. It has become a constant in our life. A life of change and uncertainty due to illness and precarious employment. People get confused by this alarm. Neither Oscar or I turn it off, we let it ring out. It is a moment when we reflect on the day so far and the evening ahead. It is a recognition of the passing of time.
When you spend so much time with another person you can develop your own language, your own humour, a shared world view that becomes a kind of common sense between you. When confronted by starkly different ideas of justice or fairness, this worldview can shatter. Our identities don’t fit a mould, they are fractured and imperfect, they evolve and we become a part of each other.
We let the light in but little else
I became seriously ill 4 years ago. Since then we have left our little apartment and have lived between two rooms in our respective family homes. We are hermits to some but never alone to others. A whole world exists in any room we inhabit together.
I found him among the flowers
Toxic masculinity has no home in our house.
Uncle Oscar or Ogga as he was known for the first couple of years of our nephew's life. Uncle Ogga will answer all your questions with a thoughtful response, he will read you stories and put you to bed. He challenges your formative ideas about gender and the world. He will ask you about your dreams and try to understand the way you think. He won't give into tantrums but he never shouts. He plays for hours in your make believe worlds. Uncle Ogga makes you feel safe.
In Kafka’s words
In his blue notebooks, Kafka states that ‘everyone carries a room about inside him’, Oscar’s room would exist in an eternal twilight and be filled with books wall to ceiling. Philosophy, fiction, poetry, aesthetics, film, books on cats, books on birds, humongous art books the weight of a child, books on the history of Argentinian football. Books he will go on to write, books he may never finish, but nonetheless love.