Anna Fawcus’ Amalgamation of Self

Australian artist ​Anna Fawcus is intently searching for herself through photography. However, the content behind ​Mixed Emotion ​(which shortens to ​M.E.​ ) doesn’t resemble a run-of-the-mill collection of self portraiture. Instead of focusing on her own visage, she instead has turned her attention toward the individuals most influential in her personal development – her parents. We had the opportunity to question Fawcus on what she’s discovered in the ragged edges of Xeroxed expressions.

What role did your parents play in your life growing up?

My parents played a significant role in my life growing up, through both nature and nurture.

Can you talk a bit about the dynamics between your mother and father? What do they have in common with one another and in what ways do they differ?

My parents are both quite private people, they’ve put themselves way outside of their comfort zones by participating in this project. I’m reluctant to discuss personal information about them, as I know they wouldn’t appreciate it.

What qualities of the two do you see within yourself?

This project began as a personal search of identity; looking backwards to move forwards. My search for identity took me to a place that the physical version of myself was no longer needed in the final self portraits. “Half him. Half her. I am.” This doesn’t necessarily refer to specific qualities from my parents but more to an overall sense of creation through the influence of these people who give us life and then shape our experience in such a significant way.

Rather than creating a digital composite or placing your images side by side, you chose to physically tear and unite separate portraits as one. Was the act of physically conjoining photographs important to you conceptually?

The work was created on a medium format film camera; a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. The original prints were darkroom prints from negatives and so the work was always physical, and it was a natural progression that the destruction and reconstruction was also a physical process. Conceptually speaking, the physical tears in the work are symbolic of the damage and repair in these relationships that create us. It is sometimes the rough edges in our formation that most define us.

Since its inception, ​M.E. ​has gained a lot of traction in the international fine art photography community. What do you think it is about your series of self portraits that resonates so deeply with viewers?

We all have parents and we are all formed to some extent through our parents presence or absence in our lives, as they mold us and shape us through the early years, either by intention or lack of. From that perspective, this body of work is universal, allowing viewers to easily identify with their own sense of self and creation.

Half him
Half her
I am

Him and her
He and she
Made me

From them
Part of them
I am

I am them
They are not me

They are the
Creators of my childhood
Leaders of my pack
Educators and influencers
Of ideas and ideals

My idols
My enemies
My heroes

For better or worse
The two became one
Individual identities blended
Xeroxed copies joined

My choice
To imitate or replicate
To take flight or flee
Either choice
Determined by them
Chosen by me

Who am I
If not a product
Of my sculptors
The architects of my mind

Mum and Dad
Him and her
Ma and Pa
He and she
It’s me

All photos and poem are courtesy of Anna Fawcus.