Anxiety as an investigative narrative

Middle Ground series Copyright Douglas Stockdale

First, I have to admit that this has been an interesting year, with the start of this horrific COVID-19 pandemic, the need to stay at home during quarantine and eliminating most social contacts. Coupled with new adventures in Zoom and other means of distant personal connections. I think we can all agree that this is not as fun or enriching as having face to face person connections.

In the background to all of these events and circumstances is the underlying concern about not getting sick or worse, be the cause of spreading COVID-19 and the potential adverse and deadly effects that this highly contaminating disease can cause. For some, this concern (or fear) of an unseen spreading disease and its potentially traumatic effects can result in feeling of being very anxious and nervous. Perhaps a short term and temporary case of anxiety, which may account for the many posts on social media of individuals feeling fatigue and depressed during this last year, as well as having some bouts of these feelings myself.

Another aspect of these pandemic conditions is a lot more time spent at home (and studio) as opportunities for self-reflection. It is during this time that perhaps in trying to deal with the emotional impact of the pandemic that I have come to realize how extensive and long term are the conditions of my personal anxiety. That what created my anxieties substantially pre-dates the pandemic, but in trying to deal with what is occurring now created the circumstances that allowed me to more open to my traumatic events in the past. I am coming to understand that the past is the past, these things can not be changed, nevertheless past events can have a very lasting current effect. Now it is a matter of how to cope with my anxiety, as I am coming to the realization that my underlying anxiety will never go away. So I either manage it, or it manages me and for me to understand that personal aspect is better to deal with it now than never.

Okay, so what the heck does this all of this mean? Essentially that this new insight is re-focusing (as a artist/photographer, love that term) my artistic energies. For the past ten years I have been working on projects that deal with family, memory and the retention of memory as related to my family history with Alzheimer’s disease. That was more of an outward artistic gaze with some health implications for what might impact me.

Now I am interested in a stronger inward artistic gaze as to how my anxiety can be an integral aspect of my narratives, such as a multi-faceted investigation of anxiety. That includes the initiation of my book-dummy for Instant Nomad Chronicles, about travel and anxiety, Memory Pods, my series about memory that I realize is also about being haunted by a history of family health, Gardening for Ordnance, the lasting effects of living on a decommissioned WWII/Korean War bombing range and subsequent environmental issues, and Flow of Light Brush the Shadow that investigates fears of encountering the unknown.

I have come to realize that the missing connection with my artist book Middle Ground that I self-published in 2018 is that it is also an investigation of anxiety, in this case separation anxiety, which effects me from time to time. While the other series mention above will eventually be published sooner or later, Middle Ground is already published, thus quickly moving to the top of my list of articles that I will be publishing here.

Cheers

Doug

PS, if you are interested in purchasing my limited edition artist book Middle Ground, book review here by Gerhard Clausing, Associate Editor, PhotoBook Journal, please message me (doug@douglasstockdale.com) regarding potential sales tax and mailing cost. Price is $59.00 per edition (Edition of 99 + 5 A/P).

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Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading again in conjunction with Medium Photo, September 11th, 12th, 18th, & 19th. More details and sign-up available now at Medium Photo.

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