52 Weeks of Photographs Capture Artist’s Experience with Mental Illness

The photographs in “52” all explore different aspects of Sora’s experience of mental illness.

Kit Sora’s photography exhibit “Weightless” is opening on Friday, March 24th at 7pm at Ocean View Gallery in Carbonear.

“Weightless” is a portion of a larger project called “52” which is a collection of 52 self-portraits, one taken per week for an entire year.

The photographs in “52” all explore different aspects of Sora’s experience of mental illness, the pieces in “Weightless” focus more tightly on the concept of weight and how it relates to mental health for Sora.

The show investigates the societal pressure to look slim that many women experience, and the toll that pressure took on Sora’s own mental health. In the context of the show, weight also refers to the feeling of being burdened by mental illness.

“[Weightless] can also be an all encompassing theme for the project because it reflects the cathartic release of the entire jumble of thoughts and pressures weighing on me through an entire year, leaving me with a weight lifted from my mind…” Sora wrote.

“Weightless” is the title of the first photograph Sora took for her “52” series. It shows her standing on a magenta-coloured bathroom scale with the strings of helium balloons wrapped tightly around her legs.

In the photo she seems to be naked but her body is almost completely obscured by pale-coloured balloons and the top of her head is outside the frame. The image suggests that the subject is almost entirely consumed by a preoccupation with weight.

“Using self portraiture as a means to communicate how I felt often meant I had to expose myself in ways I never thought I would be confident enough to do, showing both those inner demons I hid from a lot of people, and physically undressing and making myself vulnerable to make a point” Sora wrote.

Most of the photos in the series have an easily discernible visual metaphor, conveyed with props and costuming. In one image, Sora is wearing lacy underwear and pulling a hot pink measuring tape taut around her waist, drips of blood run from the places where the tape digs into her.

The image depicts how painful the pressure to appear thin can feel. Most of the photos use a pastel palate with some darker pinks and reds standing starkly out, communicating that for Sora, struggling with body image is closely linked to femininity.

“I love self portraiture because I’m in control of absolutely everything; where the camera is positioned, how everything is lit, where I stand, the face I make, the editing, etc. If I think I look a little wonky, I’ll go back and reshoot it, and sometimes I do that for hours” Sora wrote.

Sora has already begun work on another year-long conceptual series called “52’17.” In her new series she is more focused on creating an atmosphere in each piece than conveying a specific theme or message.

“I’m currently on week 12, and I’ve already danced barefoot through the snow, caught a door on fire, built a person-sized nest in my back yard, and strapped dozens of flowers to my face with foam and underwear!”

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