Alright so the purpose of this post is to sum up some of the feelings I’ve had in my ‘enhancement year’ so far that, for one reason or another, haven’t explicitly made it into my blog posts.
Whilst my year away from the life I’ve grown used to has been placed into these eponymous divisions of “home” and “away”, to any regular reader/viewer of my documentary of such it should be very clear that it is the latter which has had a more potent effect on me as both a photographic practitioner and person.
Both assisting at the Urban Outfitters Studio and studying/living in Karlstad have essentially been about testing myself in an unfamiliar environment. When I consider how I’ve navigated this expedition of a literally-foreign geography however, there’s an overarching principle that I have recognised.
I’m an inherent Anglo-centrist.
This entire process, from application and admission to excursion and exploration, I’ve felt a shift in consciousness. It’s important to note that this has all occurred in a post-Brexit state. I consider myself a liberal but it’s impossible to deny that, somewhere, the literal separation of my “home” from Europe may have played a part in my initial trepidation. I once considered myself a Brit among foreigners; I cringe at the thought of this but upon reflection I can’t articulate it otherwise. Through this physical experience of cultural integration I’ve grown to recognise myself as a foreigner among foreigners, a person among people.
Producing work in response to my life here has always seemed an inevitability, but the themes that I wish to address have been given constant thought and faced constant shift as I have progressed. I hope to respond to the post-Brexit “new-blue-passport”, to this re-investigation of the world that my generation, and those who proceed it, will face. Without being able to assign a significant amount of time to any prototyping, I have a clear idea right now of how this might look. The work must respond as much to the new topography as it does the social shaker-cup I find myself inside, think of this as a bookmark of where my head is at right now.
I love it here. I really really do. Reading what I had written pre-Sweden, I find it hilarious how scared I was. So nervous of living in a foreign country, adapting to a new culture and doing so completely alone. I was terrified! That said, I am so glad to have had this chance and to have done it with complete independence. Talking to some of my course-mates living in clusters around Europe, their experience seems different. Naturally, they’ve stayed together the whole time, it would be weird if they didn’t, but they simply haven’t had to go through the process the way I have. This isn’t a criticism at all, just a general observation and admittance that I’m so glad to have been alone. I’ve maintained a constant internal discourse, physically evidenced by my vlog series, and that’s been so crucial in keeping me motivated to both learn and socialise. At this stage, I can honestly said that I’m proud of how things have worked out. I’ve grown so much in character and hope to maintain this self-confidence going forward both until I leave Sweden and thereafter.