14 Sep For Nicole Samuels, self-portraits are an act of healing that lead to liberation
“This is the fictional photo story of a woman who finds herself overwhelmed by a tumultuous lover, yet she blooms despite her pain.”
There are parallels between Musing Bloom by Nicole Samuels, the self portraits of Frida Kahlo and the many artistic renderings of Ophelia. The flowers and water are timeless symbols of beauty, decay, strength and renewal. In each image, there’s vulnerability at play and a half-told story, allowing the viewer to fill in the gaps. Flowers are central symbols; Proteas and Carnations are abandoned, placed peacefully, used as shields, hidden behind and crafted into adorning headpieces.
“They allowed me to romanticise the images naturally and maintain the vulnerability of the moment, in that, if the flower had died or withered the image would be different and its visual language would also be different. They were also an outer visual indication of what I feel grows within all humans. I wanted to document the flowers as they were, sometimes I would wait days before taking an image in order to allow a flower to close ever so slightly so I could visually communicate a different variation and stage of blooming. Flowers, once picked, die, and I wanted to use the flowers to subconsciously encourage viewers to document themselves and their lives and their beauty with a sincerity that stems from the vulnerability of time,” says Nicole.
The series is an act of florescence inspired by the idea that inspiration begins within rather than outside oneself. The impetus for the project came from moments in Nicole’s life where she had been stripped of power and so, “photographing this photo story with combined honesty and fictional imagination allowed me to heal by turning something that should have broken me into an art that is now liberating me,” she tells us.
What makes the series more poignant is that she shot it on her iPhone. Whilst in Italy, Nicole lost her Canon DSLR at the airport. Refusing to let that hinder her creative work, she took to shooting everything with her cellphone, despite its cracked screen.
“Michael Moore says; ‘The purpose of art actually is, in many cases, to make you feel quite uncomfortable. Or at least to go to that place that’s already of discomfort inside of you, and tap into that’. This is something I keep in mind when I begin a photo story,” she adds.
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