ARIELLE LEVITAN // MXMS
It’s what I usually hide behind.
Except it’s invisible….
You can’t see it, neither can I.
It’s a discernible boundary that penetrates all areas of my life; distorting all of the shards of glass shattered— as if it were once whole.
Living with depression & anxiety is like a warm blanket of aluminum steel being wrapped around you with the grip of an enormous anaconda.
Naturally, as we are humans and creatures of habit, Sometimes there’s comfort in this darkness. Particularly if that’s all you’ve ever known. However, most of the time, it’s overwhelming and incredibly uncomfortable.
For creatives, the line between genius and “madness” is ever so thin; often blurred. Many of the most creative humans I know are oppressed with psychological disposition. Their art is miraculous, even if they are battling Goliath internally. These feelings gets overlooked frequently as depression and anxiety are virtually invisible. There are no bandages, no cast, and nothing tangibly broken that one can physically see with the human eye.
Luckily though, amongst others, I’ve managed to pave a way out of the darkness and into hope through art.
Music has always been my solace. The eye of the hurricane. A period of silence during the loudest screams. It calms me and reminds me of everything there is to look forward to. I’ve managed to channel pain into creativity.
My feelings do not define me. They aren’t facts. However, my feelings do contribute largely to how I can help shape a world of youth, the mental healthcare community, and those severely impacted by psychological symptoms of which they may not be educated about.
I met Ashley Osborn in February of 2017. After being introduced to her beautiful art, I immediately found myself wanting to work with her. I had a subconscious feeling we were connected on a high artistic level. Needless to say, when I got the opportunity to be the subject of her photos in February, I was completely ecstatic. An incredibly kind, smart and talented girl, I felt really calm around her and we seemed to connect through the lens.
Ashley and I ended up working together again in May, this time, totally unplanned and impromptu. With a few sheets of sheer fabric from a rogue craft store in the San Fernando valley, a couple of photo lights, a camera, and an emotional girl on the other end of the lens, she managed to evoke raw MOOD from single images. The sincerity and ingenuity behind her vision, coupled with the unrefined beauty amidst the emotion of the final product speaks volumes to me, as I hope it will to others.
Awareness and readily available information are something our community is STILL lacking in 2018. Sometimes it still feels a little like we’re still living in the 1950’s—as if there’s been no evolution and/or medical advancement with psychology; that we’re all still playing pretend behind picket-white fences in a “Leave It to Beaver Neighborhood”. It’s easier that way, isn’t it?
If fear is an emotion humans feel in conjunction with the unknown, lets eliminate that by breaking the stigma of what depression really is, and instill hope and positivity among the masses who are unaware of the infinite amount of resources available (pharmaceutical and non).
In the midst of all the distortion I've experienced, and the lies my brain has tried to tell me over the years, there is one undeniable truth that I am certain of: Art Heals.
I always wanted to do a series where I collaborate with an artist to convey emotion. I met Arielle early in 2017 when I photographed her project MXMS. I was incredibly fond of their dark and intricate sound and I knew I wanted to work with her again. When we discussed working together this time I knew I wanted to use detailed fabric to create layers and patterns on skin and once we began shooting it turned into something much more.
We set up in the far back office of a studio in Burbank with a clothing rack and a spotlight with the help of Allie Snow. I don't know why but as soon as the set up was complete and I began snapping away, it immediately reminded me of confinement.
As we kept shooting I realized that this felt heavy. The layers and fabric made me feel like I was photographing somebody in their own personal space and Arielle's somber poses called for heavy shadow and contrast.
Once I began editing I knew this was it. This was how I was going to convey my take on depression. No, not to glamorize. To raise awareness.
Finding comfort in confinement. Within the four walls you frequent the most. The one place you may feel that these feelings are just for a moment, tolerable or some days so suffocating that you can not imagine leaving. You can allow yourself to be vulnerable. 2017 for me has been a very large and important transition in my life. There isn't one thing I would change, however anxiety has at times confined me to the four walls of my room.
My anxiety forces me to feel deeper and see my subjects a little darker. We all struggle with some type of anxiety. Especially creatives.
There are times in life where I feel so inevitably lost within my world and when I hold a camera things begin to make sense again. With all of the pain in the world right now, we felt it was more important now than ever to share shead some light on depression, anxiety and how we interpret it and turn it into art. It doesn't have to be darkness, you can turn the darkness into something much more. Something to make others feel less alone. Something to make others start a conversation about mental health.
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS RESOURCES AND HOTLINES //
American Foundation for Suicide PreventioN | https://afsp.org
American Psychological Association / Counseling Locator | http://locator.apa.org
Crisis Text Line | https://www.crisistextline.org | TEXT “ITSOK” TO 741741 - Available 24/7
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
The Trevor Project LGBT Crisis and Suicide Prevention | Toll-free 24 hour hotline 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)
For world-wide crisis hotlines please visit:
HOPE FOR THE DAY | WWW.HFTD.ORG