NO HANDS is an exhibition of photographs, drawings, paintings, poetry, installation artworks and short film wall projections. Through these various mediums, both artists disentangle the varied emotional states of depression and bring light to the surrounding misconceptions. NO HANDS showed at SOMA Gallery in Melbourne during July 2018.
NOTE: This page only contains the photographic stills and video component of NO HANDS. For Lauren’s work, which includes ink drawings, paintings, poetry and installations, see her personal website.
Mike Stacey’s core photographic work is centred around humanity and presence. Aspects that transcend physicality. Moments of connection. Moments of sensuality and experience, of humanity, of beauty.
In the exhibition NO HANDS, Mike has applied this focus to capturing the changing and often fleeting and cyclic nature of the emotional and human aspects of living day to day with depression. The images show four dimensions: Home, Face, Body and Emotion.
Lauren Michelle is a New Zealand-born conceptual and observational artist, who has independently developed her work over the last 12 years whilst living in Australia. Her work ranges from quick observational impressions depicting people and daily living, or surreal or abstract art which convey thoughtful personal or political insights, which often include strong emotive qualities or challenging viewpoints. Although predominantly self-taught, she has also recently taken up part-time study, learning classical drawing at Julian Ashton Art School.
In NO HANDS, she carefully considers the placement and presentation of the artworks, often incorporating it as part of the concept of the artwork. Whether through mood, thought or humour, Lauren Michelle showcases many varied aspects and emotions of depression, realising it as a multi-faceted complexity, rather than the common misconception of it simply being, a choice.
The following are the photographic prints exhibited as part of NO HANDS. The muse in the images is Lauren herself and the images are a result of a process we developed together as photographer-model.
I decided to group the work into four categories depicting four selected dimensions of living with depression. Those being Home, Face, Body and Emotion.
Lauren Michelle (being Muse)
In these photographs with Mike Stacey, Lauren Michelle sees her role as a muse as an extension of her independent artistry, using her body as another medium to express and hold emotion. Instead of perfecting and rehearsing precise posing, the method commonly found in commercial modelling practices, Lauren moves with a dance-like quality, and leaves room for creative error. She uses an internal awareness of mood as well as her body’s position in space, to relay connect between her body and face, to location and context, and back to the viewer.
Quiet hours. Long hours. Empty hours. Day to day existence. Waiting, for something to happen. Empty rooms, house mates at work, the world at work. The day proceeds, event-less. The week, month and year proceeds similarly. Friends can become distanced, either through lack of awareness of depression and how to deal with a suffering friend. Agoraphobia can easily develop, the fear of going outside of the familiar home environment. Expressing how one feels to friends is usually avoided due to the associated shame or fear that friends either won’t understand or will even abandon the friendship.
Our connection. Our front. Our face.
Sometimes a veil, sometimes a direct and revealing insight. Often appearing fine and well on the outside, via highly developed mechanisms for veiling true feelings of shame and fear. Feelings of numbness and nothing, staring blankly without purpose. Privacy brings a lifting of the veil - facing away from light into shadow, head turned against the wall - resigned to this. And facing toward the light, window gazing, searching for answers, to this.
Fingers, hands, feet, legs, ribs… all reflect our self in some way. Nude vulnerability, hands curled, face hidden, retreat from the day. Thinking in endless circles, trying to find a way, a way to be, to be part of things. Twisted torso inner turmoil surfaces cyclically and dominates. Wrists upturned, towards surrender, giving up, limp. Internal organs; liver, lungs. Scars, bruises and tattoos insights into inner state and methods of expression through body.
Modern society provides little room for emotional expression. “Don’t be so emotional”. “Don’t get mad, get even”. We’re not taught how to deal with many of our emotions, other than to try and suppress them. It appears that most depression involves the numbing of emotions, especially grief, fear, anger and shame.
Depression occurs when these emotions loop back on themselves, having feelings about feelings, sometimes without limit. Feedback loops can produce emotions that are experienced as either unbearably painful or out of control, or at least anticipated to be. However, there is a zone between these two extremes that allows one to feel emotions and to also observe oneself feeling. This zone is possible because of the human capacity for role-taking; seeing one's self from the imagined point of view of another person. Research is currently investigating this phenomenon for possible drug-free treatments of the emotional aspects of depression.
These three videos played on loop in a quiet dark back room of the exhibition space where people could chill and absorb.
Behind the Veil
This short silent film depicts the changing, alternating and cyclic nature of the emotional phases of depression. There are times of both reflection, and projection, where one can see oneself in a different state. Often during the phase which leads into a period of depression one can see the darkness of the destination. It’s seemingly more difficult to see the light when in such dark states. Some states exist for periods of time with little change whilst others oscillate, often causing confusion and disorientation.
Conversation with Myself
This short film depicts Lauren’s personal story of conflict felt on a journey of being between being both an artist, and a model/muse. The alternation between, and sometimes unison of expressive and spontaneous snippets of modelling, and the making of ink artworks, reveals an organic portrayal of two contradictory perspectives, between being the creator and the subject often at the same time.
A Unique Process
This silent process film illustrates various aspects of our artistic process. It shows the set-up and photographic workflow used by photographer Mike Stacey and Model/Muse Lauren Michelle to create many of the images, particularly in the ‘Emotion’ set. Aspects of Lauren’s ink drawings and process are also depicted.
NO HANDS Magazine
Containing work from the NO HANDS show with extra poetry and photographs.
NO HANDS magazine contains art work in the form of poetry, photographs, drawings and paintings from the exhibition of the same name, held at SOMA Gallery in Melbourne during July, 2018. Much of the poetry was not seen at the exhibition.
NO HANDS is an exhibition of photographs, drawings, paintings, poetry, installation artworks and video which disentangle the varied emotional states of depression and bring light to the surrounding misconceptions.
Artists: Mike Stacey & Lauren Michelle
Behind the Scenes
And of course what event wouldn’t be complete without some behind the scenes shots. Coming very soon…