‘Blankness’ is Benjamin Robert Muir’s photographic self-portrait series that explores the inescapable lows of creative self-doubt.
This series of self-portraits embodies the concept of being consumed by that depressive low of uninspired thought. That pang of fear, that I am not good enough to be a professional photographer. Fearing that I haven’t produced anything of self worth. I am suffocated. It consumes me. Blinded by the white page and trapped in this condition, I am unable to start.
Reading through other photographers’ blogs it seems that I am not alone in this.
Other freelance creatives seem to share this hiatus of inspiration. And I am comforted that I am not alone. This body of work was made, not only as an expression of ideas, but used as an escape. An escape from the Blankness.
In the winter of 2014, work was quiet and I struggled to pay rent. A recurring negative conclusion returned, that I should give up on my passion and dreams of photography for the nine to five. This thought haunts me. Even more so does the belief that I haven’t done any art of personal importance lately. I miss the days of university, where every breath of my photography cried out to my artistic self. Every image expressed a wandering thought.
I decided that to escape this consuming blankness, I would start the New Year with a resolution to network and collaborate with other creatives. For no photographer is an island. Blankness was a photographic project with Bristol based photographer Luis Cruz. Long have I struggled with the concept of how a collaboration with another photographer would work. Where would my artistic ownership stand on a work shared with another photographer? If a self-portrait is taken by someone else, is it even a self-portrait at all?
We talked through the project, and I discussed with Luis Cruz how I imagined the images could begin to express Blankness. We found some paint that was heavy enough to portray this consuming emotion. Lighting set, and we began. As he poured the paint over me, I suddenly became powerless. The toxic paint slowly covering my eyes and mouth, I was blinded and struggling to breathe. Without any control of the photographic process, I gave myself to the portraits.
Photography and Text: Benjamin Robert Muir