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ANN MANSOLINO: Symbolic Autobiography

Artist Statement

Through my photographs, I explore the relationship between the internal self and external ideas of past, present, identity, memory, and place. The images are part of an ongoing series of constructed portraits and self-portraits that give visual, photographic form to lived internal experience. They function as a symbolic autobiography: they do not depict what particular life events looked like, but rather what they felt like, or could have felt like, in moments of introspection, aspiration, recollection, and dislocation. 

My photographs have their origins in my own personal experiences, yet also aim to explore more universal truths about what it means to be human in the world. They explore the aspects of life that are not visible on the surface: they investigate the ways in which we search for and locate meaning, and reveal the emotional and psychological texture of our experiences. Their symbolic narratives thus follow a poetic, rather than a linear logic. Each image can be read as a single moment extracted from a larger untold story, without beginning or end, providing viewers with room to navigate and a larger place to find themselves and their experiences in the image. After all, we all are trying to find our way through this world, and to understand where meaning resides; to articulate how we see ourselves in relation to our pasts, our feelings of belonging and its opposite, and our ideas of who we are and who we think we should be.

In order to photographically explore this idea of the interior self through constructed symbol and metaphor, I place objects in the landscape that often function like temporary installations, created solely for the purpose of being photographed, and perform actions over and over, which become rituals that are seen only by the camera. My images are shot on medium or large format black and white film, and are printed as gelatin silver prints in a traditional darkroom.