This semester, I’ve been fully immersed in art and creation, reveling at my own opus, shocked at what I’ve been able to create within the final four months of 2020. This year has been a whirlwind for me, full of ups and downs. One thing that’s gotten me through it is art. I’ve used all this free time and boredom to refine my craft and explore my creativity through avenues different than writing and dress. Becoming confident enough in my own photography to share it with whoever cared to look has been a journey. I took up photography as a hobby seven years ago, but I’ve never truly felt comfortable with my self-taught skills and the final product of my creative conceptions. For the past nine months, I’ve experimented with lighting, filters, lenses, and more. I couldn’t beg my friends to model for me, so I took a safer route and assumed the roles of photographer, stylist, model, and editor. I made mistakes, of course, but in the loving comfort of my own company, who could pass judgement on me? Nearly every photograph I have shot this year has seen me both in front of and behind the camera. Dysphoria is no different.
These images were the product of a poster project in one of the two art workshops I’ve been taking this semester. With only a week to create something I was proud of, I racked my brain for inspiration, listening to music and creating a list of possibilities. The greater concept behind Dysphoria was prompted by Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” and the nostalgic feeling of her album The Fame. I used to have the album’s promotional poster in my locker as an 11-year-old girl, obsessed with the aesthetics of her videos and the range of her voice. I decided in that moment that I was going to create a series of promotional posters for my own debut album, a fictional body of work, of course. Since the domination of music streaming in recent years and the rise of social media, I feel as though physical posters promoting an artist’s work are nearly obsolete. Musicians simply post an image of the album cover to Instagram and Twitter, adding information of the album or single’s release in the caption. The creative effort behind these completely separate posters is lost in my eyes. When I created Dysphoria, I set out to revive this lost art with imagery that is not necessarily the cover art for this debut album I have yet to record, but thematic extensions of it meant to draw in new listeners. I imagined them pasted up on scaffolding in city streets around the world, or hung up on bedroom walls and the middle school lockers of devoted fans. I wanted to create a collectible, a static poster rooted in the year 2020, something that people will look back on and be revisited by the emotions they felt when first listening to the album the way I did with The Fame.
Aesthetically, I was inspired by the low-light, almost ethereal imagery of HBO’s Euphoria, a show that also inspired the name of the fictional album. Experimenting with texture, gel color filters, and studio lighting, I shot these images in my Greenwich Village dorm room. Five yards of cheap satin fabric served as a backdrop for my slightly masked face in the angsty wonderland I managed to create in my tiny room. Here, I present to you: Dysphoria.