Wellington photographer David Hamilton‘s essay explores the interiority of average people, their self image, which often contrasts with their persona, the image other people have of them, or what they want to project outside. It is a photographical essay on the depth that the dialectics between exteriority and interiority can reveal, on the richness of the self that this dialectics exposes.
The subjects photographed and interviewed are neither only interiority, nor solely their persona. They are both, simultaneously, and more than that, something that goes beyond each of these taken either separately, or together.
It tells a very modern story, in its focus on the dichotomy between interiority and exteriority, but it is also a metamodern story. Modernity, as a paradigm that started with Descartes’ scientifical method, and was consolidated during the Enlightenment, is all about exteriority, observing the outside world and conceptualising the data through sciences; it is about conquering other countries, exploring unknown territories, pushing the frontier further away, as well as about appropriating the other, forcing him or her in the shape of the accepted western, white, rational, self. But with the modernism of the twentieth century (James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner), there is an incipient interest in the interiority (stream of consciousness, dreams, the unconscious and subconscious of Jung, Freud’s id). However, the interiority of the human subject was not a preoccupation with average people. With metamodernity, however, interiority becomes everyone’s companion, from children’s imaginary friends to self development and self-help books, workshops, or programmes. The awareness of the self and of one’s interiority becomes as important as exploring the outside world. A balance and, ideally, a communication, between interiority and exteriority, self and persona, spirit and the world, is sought.
And this is what David Hamilton captures so beautifully!
The second great concept underlining the essay is that everyone has a story to tell, a story that is worth listening to, and which can enrich and enlighten its listeners. I have had this idea since I was a child, and most of the good literature I read was about heroes larger than life, while the communist propaganda literature focussed on homespun heroes. I wasn’t aware of these aspects just mentioned then, but I was convinced that everyone needs to articulate their stories, and that it would be such a feat listening to or reading them.
David captures people’s stories with talent and grace: the subjects are very diverse, and their inner life wonderfully rich! Some of the photographs got me contemplating them, thoughtless, in sheer admiration for the beauty of the person being shot, and mostly, for the craft of the photographer who could capture that evanescent moment of beauty.