Confusing People With Spaceship Gazing Images

Artist Blog by Jocelyn Allen

Two self-portrait projects later I still felt weird about making work that included myself. I moved to London five months after going back to my parent’s house and stayed with an Uncle for a month to make sure I could find somewhere to live and get a job. Whilst I was there I figured out that I was staying 0.7 miles from three different cemeteries (though sadly not in a triangular formation as that would have been creepier). I made a series called The Squirrel’s Playground which was made up of photos from these three cemeteries. It was a short project but enough to get me settled into my surroundings and used to shooting in London.

I applied for a Masters and submitted a portfolio of just self portraiture work. I was obsessed with the film Sliding Doors and consequently was working on an idea about parallel universes. I went to the interview with this work in progress and I guess I confused them with this straying of ideas. Needless to say I didn’t get in, but now I am glad I didn’t. I was applying mainly as I was scared about the future and I wasn’t really ready to do one.

Following this I ditched the parallel universes and my next project was self-portraiture (surprise!) and called The Many Faces of JFA, which was made between April 2011 and April 2012. I had started to experiment with overlaying images whilst at my parent’s house the previous year. I thought that I looked quite different in pictures and was interested in how a portrait is generally representative of a split second in time. I set up a camera and a light in the corner of my bedroom/studio and took a picture every day that I was around (I avoided going away for more than a few days and would leave things early to make sure I got a shot). I made eight photographs – seven showing seven weeks of images and then the final image showing all of them.

Not long after starting the overlays, I felt that I should be doing other things besides self-portraiture and that I needed to get outside again. I did an online casting to get people (and some dogs) to pretend that they could see a spaceship in the sky for the series Double You Tee Eff. It was supposed to be part of a larger project that I’ll perhaps revisit someday.

I started to go to portfolio reviews and confused people with all my self-portraiture work and these spaceship gazing images. It came out that I was basically scared of being a one trick pony, but someone asked me if I see self-portrait photographers that I admire as one trick ponies. ‘No’. ‘Well there you go…’

Another small self-portrait project made around this time was called National StatisticIt is comprised of passport-esque photographs that I had taken for a Christmas job application for a post office after another temporary job had finished. I didn’t get the job.

I had started to embrace self-portraiture more, shake off some of the doubts I was having and was beginning to see more of the advantages that it had for me.

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