+May 21, 2021
Humans are spatial beings that unfold a bewildering life with all its contradictory aspects on a certain latitude and altitude. Space is in us, we are part of space and both are porous entities that are constantly affected by the infinite interaction between them. We can't become non-spatial... as long as we are organic masses with life. How humans interact with space determines the rules of movement, coexistence, and development. Spaces, whether they are tangible or intangible, are entities that need constant maintenance. Each one of us decides what gets in, gets changed, gets moved, or discarded. From our houses and offices to our public spaces and internal non-tangible ones as the mind itself. The mind might be the greatest space of storage available to everyone, an area where we don't always seek order with the same diligence as our four-wall-dwellers.
There is a task of rearrangement when visitors come to our house. The cleaning, the storage, even the hiding part (of the not-so-nice parts); everything as a part of the process of preparation. A process that we all agreed, doesn ́t happen that often or with that neatness. There is an effort in the exposition of our space to others, as human beings, we have that innate necessity of others approval, of a sense of belonging, and we prepare spaces intending to show the great splendor that they are capable of; being it for self-fulfillment, the aim of pleasing others or part of an everyday life ritual to find order between the chaos. Whatever the motive, we are always vigilant on what we expose to others, tending to hide the vulnerable spots here and there. People devote more time to their home being visited by random acquaintances every once in a while, that in their mind, which is practically naked and in permanent exposure to whoever we interact with. In there lies the origin of everybody's language, sarcasm, laugh, flirtatious behavior, demanding behaviors, random comments along with traumas and unconscious biases. This is exactly what photographer Carola Cappellari explores in her series “Almost Blue”, our internal emotional geography and how it tangles along with every part of our daily life and permeates our response to the environment. A mind is a messy place and it works with the resources at her disposal, and we aim to clean up the house on our own. And as skillful as anyone can be, we are not all a Jack of all trades, and cleaning up our mental space is not always an easy task. Even more when asking for help distorts into: I am weak. Which is true, we are all weak, but in sharing our weakness we find the strength to stand up again.
One of the anchors of Cappellari ́s project was to construct a body of work that would become an asset of self-compassion and mutual understanding, “Drawing on psychological findings and cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, I attempted to metaphorically reconstruct my personal path and to turn it into an invitation for mutual sharing”. When mental spaces are shared, they create an aura of empathy and tolerance, vulnerability becomes a crown for the hurt and reality comes out. We are all hurt. We are all healing. Vulnerability is part of an everyday process, it is almost essential for growth, to become vulnerable means “to be able to be hurt” it has action, almost a gesture that involves aperture and ambiguity. It's a voluntary exposure to the unknown, and the stronger the connection we have with certain aspects of ourselves, the more difficult it becomes to be vulnerable. Carolla herself expressed: “there is an impact that sharing experiences of mental health can have on the journey of recovery, while at the same time challenging our reluctance, as a society, to show vulnerability”.
Another important aspect that Carola wanted to showcase was the importance of relationships on the clean-up or our mental scenarios, “Relationships are key to recover from mental health issues, something I tried to express by visually reproducing the dynamics of my own relationships within that period. It was important for me that people perceived the relevance of opening up and sharing, and I knew that to do so, this process had to start with me”. And again vulnerability opens up the walls between our relationships and digs discomfort. Mental health was considered a taboo topic, relegated to a less important issue, always way behind physical health, even considered a luxury. Times have come when mental health is resurging as a basic need, giving the same importance to our body and mind. Photography work as the one from Carola brings constructive perspectives on how we configure our beliefs and mindsets and opens up vulnerable dialogues that make us more human. Being human is being hurt, being vulnerable, and being able to recognize that same suffering in others.