Breakfast Journals, 2007

/ 6 split screen videos

/ 2 artist books 

The process raises a number of questions:
1. The impact of the camera on the subject and whether it is possible to measure any distorting effects?
2. What is the relationship between what we see and the subject’s interior experience?
Both these questions I have sought to illuminate by asking the subjects to provide a record of their interior thoughts and feelings. Sometimes the subjects have commented directly on the effect of the camera’s presence.
3. By taking a cross-section of women with different cultural backgrounds I have been able to consider questions of cultural identity.
What difference does it make to a woman now living in London, that she lived much of her adult life in New Zealand? How much of this can we observe? How much do we have to be told?

In the case of women from my study, most of them come from different cultures. They in part, bring their baggage (language, culture, history,) with them when they move in time (from the past towards the future) and space (another country,work, home, etc.) and in part, adopt elements from the new culture.
I wonder whether they ever find themselves ‘in between’.

There is no special way according to which I choose the women. It is just that I find them interesting for a reason.
They all belong to different cultural backgrounds. I either meet them on the street, through a friend, a few I know from before. I have not been to their homes before. If they agree to participate in the project I ask them whether I could come to record their activities to do with and around breakfast.

We agree on the time according to when they ordinarily have breakfast.
Each of them has breakfast at a more or less same time every day, which points to a routine.

When I come to their house (usually the night before) I try to set the two cameras so that they cover the most of the space where the morning activities take place from two different angles, so that the viewer could get the sense of the space as well.
In the morning they themselves switch the cameras on according to the time of their breakfast and let them run until it is finished. I am not there in order not to intervene with their daily routine.
They write a journal on the day of the shoot which reflects another angle of ‘them’. I ask them to write about anything they want, possibly about the everyday and if they want reflect on the effect of the presence of the camera in the room.

In order to make it as objective as possible I do not cut any of the footage off, but only synchronise the footage from the two cameras.

The camera does not show everything. Whether that reflects the real person it is hard to tell. Not only because the presence of the camera has an impact but also because we, a lot of the time, put ourselves into a role that we play. And are sometimes not even aware of it.

On the other hand it is difficult to know whether one behaves differently in front of the camera. How does one know? There is no reason to think that.
More so, since I took the cameras into the women’s houses only once. That made it out-of-the ordinary. That might have meant that they had been more aware of the extraordinary presence of the camera in their otherwise camera-free environment. Quite different from the presence of CCTV cameras in the outside world, where we expect and are used to them.

Maybe the change would have happened if I observed over a longer period of time?

As for the writing, it has been already shown (e.g. Wearing in Signs…), writing reveals more than only the camera by itself but it is the writer who decides how much she will tell.
The viewer is left with the combination of both and has to construct a story out of it. That is a process that engages his identity as well. Whatever the viewer sees is only his understanding of the picture. Therefore each of us would understand it in a slightly different way.

The reason I choose to present the films as an installation is to further challenge the viewer; in choosing where he would locate himself, which film he is going to decide to watch, which person to identify most with, if any. I want to create a new space where all these stories would mix. A space of the ‘beyond’ where ‘space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion’.  I want this site of cultural differences to be the space from which the viewer would form new collaborations, re-define his identity and the idea of society as well?


Using Format