MAGAZINE // ARTISTS
SPEAKING OF TERRAIN...
The inner terrain is the territory of the Self, which ranges wide realms of the interior with original thought, emotion, creativity, and choice. For us, traversing the inner terrain, like any real adventure, will also mean running into those feelings, thoughts and beliefs that come from identifications with the inauthentic. Differentiating between the authentic and the inauthentic is every persons personal journey, which has the potential to lead us to a peaceful internal home and hence a peaceful, external dealings with our surroundings.
We are looking to our environments to define us.
We look into the faces of others and see mirrors. We do this, however, not simply to see ourselves, but also because we fear abandonment and essentially always look for connection. Connection is the instigator behind every one of our emotional needs, and centrally what makes the world go round. We feel that we must be whatever is in that mirror in order to maintain a relationship, no matter how fleeting, a connection with the opposite, possibly even a stranger in the streets.
What we receive from those upon whom we mirror ourselves is utterly subjective, and even so the core behind almost every our action towards human peers, though on a level of subconsciousness, the root of every friendship and every acquaintanceship, any feeling of safety and comfort as well as insecurity and fright.
We have the ability to consciously reject projection, but our sense of self goes with the undercurrent, and we become, even if only for a split second, whatever we see in the mirrors. So, what is projected onto us – and what we project onto others- becomes part of an identity, a small piece in an ever-growing puzzle.
We search and yearn for connection even when looking at faces in photographs, and although this is a powerful tool and one of the reasons why photography unlike any other art form and medium has the actual ability to touch us in our very self, our inner terrain, it can also be a distraction from the actual idea and concept of the image, the thought behind it so to speak.
Jackie Nickerson has, in incredibly beautiful, quiet and temperate imagery, managed to not only circumvent this dilemma, but actually make use of it, thus lending a powerful voice to a topic close to her heart.
By hiding the faces of her subjects she draws attention to our personal authentic perception of the depicted as well as of our inner terrain, engaging us in conscious considerations of the matter and message behind the image.
Jackies reduced and graceful artistic approach with the camera has created images with a feeling of immediate importance, with a proud reticence, which in itself speaks loudly.
We are smitten with Jackies Africa, with Jackies terrain.
Jackie Nickerson began photographing Zimbabwean farm workers in 1996 as a way to change the perception that those who work in African agriculture are disempowered, unmodern people. The resulting series, Farm, focused on the unique and beautiful clothing the workers made for themselves, and by doing so highlighted the worker’s identity, individuality, and ultimately their modernism.
Now, with her third series, Terrain, Nickerson turns her attention to the roles in which workers play in the production and commodification of agricultural goods.
“The photographs still ripple with politics, particularly around the issues of food production, agribusiness and labor. It’s just that they are marked with a next-generation awareness of the pitfalls of photographing people. Where the liberal humanism of earlier social documentary used people as its “universal” currency, “Terrain” puts plants and work implements in the foreground. In this sense, you might call Ms. Nickerson’s work post-human social documentary.” - Martha Schwendener, The New York Times, Art in Review.
She is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.