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Dana Stirling

Title ︎︎︎ Why am I Sad?
This in progress body of work is a self-reflection of who I am as a person and my connection to photography.

Growing up back in a small town in Israel, I spent most of my time inside my room. I felt alone both outside those walls and inside of them. I was always alone even when I was around others. My house never really felt like a home, and my room was not an escape it was just all I had. Family was not a comfort; it was a cause for much of the stress, anxiety and mainly the sadness I felt. My mother, even though we didn’t speak about it often, suffers from clinical depression. I saw her lose more and more of herself, becoming less and less a person I understood. When you are young you just think of it as if your mom is just a little sad, so it makes sense that you also are – a little sad sometimes. It took me years to understand how it really affected me and my own struggles with depression.

As I grew older, and my frustration of the situation grew, I found myself hiding in my room for days, hours and years, buried with my head down in this sand prison. I just felt sad all the time. I felt like there was no escape. Ever. In this loneliness, I found comfort in photography. With my camera it would be just me in my room and a random object like an eggshell, a figurine, a mirror etc. and I could have it tell my story for me. Photography allowed me to take my inner dialogue and bring it out by using still life as my personal coded language. I was able to communicate with these objects better than people. They told the story I was not able to.

Now, years after moving as far as I could from that room, I find myself still being sad. Photography has become not just an escape but now also my burden. When I don’t photograph, I am sad, and when I do photograph my images are sad as well as if I am no longer able to escape the cloud of sad that is above me.

"Why am I Sad?” is my exploration of my personal relationship to photography and the world that I see through my camera’s lens. It is an open question that I don’t intend to answer but I hope that I can find comfort in it once more.

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