“I needed the experience of images of myself that were not about beauty, but just about. I don’t always like how we make ourselves up for images. I liked how it was really, truly just an experience and not a stressful one and not one with a particular goal. It wasn’t “a shoot”. It was just a was. I needed that. And I was okay with being imaged however I was. I needed to see me and make friends with me again.”
// INTISAR ABIOTO //
I have a strong desire for you to understand how I work.
I am a photographer, yes. But the value in what I do lies more in my ability to create safe spaces for authenticity, to facilitate meaningful experiences based on what comes up in that authentic space, to allow it to unfold, and to decipher the symbolism that comes forward. For me, making photographs is a practice that can enhance an experience by allowing the person living it to be able to view what has happened and reflect on it from an alternative perspective.
I’m not just here to make things pretty. The world doesn’t need more mask-makers. I am the one who will photograph you when you are willing to take the mask off.
For my session with Intisar, I asked her to bring items that were meaningful to her, and I brought items of my own that I feel hold energetic power and made them available.
When she arrived, we talked for a long time. About ancestry. About being a messenger for truth – uncomfortable truth. We talked about censorship, privilege, guilt, self, memories, stories, healing, intention. These things that pass through us. And then we simply made ourselves (and the studio and the items we brought) vessels for these things.
Here are the images we made.
Thank you, Intisar.
I am a light worker.
Light work, by nature, requires shadow work – looking at the dark, hurt, dysfunctional parts of ourselves. If you’ve followed my photography, you have seen me publicly address my own shadows through self-portraiture and words. And though I have spent less time highlighting it, I have worked closely with others on addressing shadows to transform them into the light of consciousness.
It is not comfortable work. It requires the strength and courage to honestly confront the shadows that reside within the self and within others. It requires patience and perseverance, addressing pieces at a time so as to not become overwhelmed by the power of shadow and pain. The potential of this shadow power is immense. One does not have to look far to see examples of humans who have been greatly corrupted by shadow (also known as evil, ego, trauma, to name a few). Some have become so overtaken that they have become merely shells of humans, exercising the terrorizing power of shadow, relentlessly inflicting trauma onto others.
I believe that at the core, truth is truth, though there are many storylines and symbols and languages we can use to try and make sense of abstract ideas and communicate them to one another. One storyline or set of symbols that helps me to make sense of shadow is to think of it as a psychological virus. For centuries, this has been referred to by indigenous peoples as “wetiko”, a virus that lives in the human psyche, using us as hosts and vessels for its power. In Western culture, we more commonly understand and refer to the concept of wetiko as trauma. All of us have experienced trauma in some form as a result of the actions of others, whether directly or indirectly. Trauma is widespread in our culture, manifesting as exploitation, slavery, corruption, pollution, factory farming, and the “us & them” mentalities that create racism, sexism, speciesism, and other “isms” that divide us as a people, as a living, unified Earth. People who are suffering from wetiko, or trauma, unconsciously project their shadow aspects onto us, and when left unresolved, this wetiko or trauma spreads throughout our being, and we become hosts for this psychological virus, manifesting it through mental illness and physical dis-ease.
This phenomenon of wetiko, or trauma, is truly at the root of all the problems of the world, and we are witnessing the powerful effects it is having on our planet as we destroy,cannibalize and exploit our own humanity and home in the name of power. We have been brainwashed by this psychological virus to think that this ego-based power is what we desire, when in truth, it is insanity. True empowerment resides in vulnerability, surrender, equality, harmony and love.
It is our job as individuals and as a people, to address this shadow power, this trauma, this ego, this wetiko virus in ourselves so that its destructive energy ends with us. We have the power to transform our own shadows into light. This is how we will heal. This is how we spiritually evolve as a collective people. This is truth as I understand it.
If you are interested, you can read more about wetiko here. I will say again, that there are many ways to speak about truth. The metaphors are not important except as a passage for creating understanding.
What are your thoughts?
You are magic.
You are sparkle and shimmer.
You are elegance and power like a stretchy rubber band covered in fairy dust.
Love you, beauty.