Collecting – Heads: Photographers research – Dominika Dovgialo

01st March 2021

‘Behind the I’ by Dominika Dovgialo

Dominika Dovgialo is a Polish-Lithuanian photographer based in London. Her interest in mental health can be traced back to her school years where she took on a Peer Mentor role; someone who listens and tries to communicate to other students who are struggling. Dominika studied a Philosophy BA at King’s College London, developing her interest in identity, morality and the awareness of other minds.

Daniel (2018) fragmentary.org

As a theme for my art and photography, one that I always come back to work on is mental health. While researching other photographers I came across Dovgialo who produced a collaborative project with participants in art therapy where she wanted to answer the question, ‘How could I ‘photograph’ the mind and create a portrait of what is going on inside, as well as outside, the heads of my subjects?’ For her the answer ‘…was to invite them to be both observer and creator of such a portrait.’ Dovgialo (2018)

Having lived with mental health illnesses since childhood, attended counselling and groups where art was used as therapy and also setting up my own social art and photography group called ‘stART well’ which encouraged people living with mental health to leave the house, meet other people and create, I understood the concept that Dovgialo was trying to portray in this series of work.

Not only can such creative activities help the individual to express themselves and to release feelings and thoughts from within themselves but it can act as a way to raise positive awareness of mental health and battle the daily stigma that living with such illnesses brings with it. I also worked for a mental health arts project as their assistant coordinator, running the day to day business, teaching art, crafts and photography as well as exhibiting the members work in exhibitions which gave them such a sense of achievement that it had a positive impact on how they see and valued themselves.

For Dovgialo’s project the participants were given a portrait of themselves that she had taken in a previous art therapy session on which they could draw, write or collage onto. The outcome of the workshop can be seen below and shows how each participant approached and created different outcomes in their self-portrait.

images from Fragmentary website

This series is similar to self-portraits I took using my webcam which I then draw over using the webcam software tools. Using a photograph as a canvas onto which I am able to build layers and text is one of the areas that I am keen to incorporate into my own working methods and will definitely research other artists and photographers that implement these techniques and develop the concept practice in my own work in the future.

Beneath My Hoodie and in the Dark I Hide

Bibliography


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