Athena Intanate: One Day at a Time

Photo: Athena Intanate
 

 

Photography and Text by Athena Intanate, Copyright 2020

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One Day at a Time

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Too often when we think of travel, we reminisce of far-flung, exotic places, worthy of bragging about and pulling up photos of at the next family gathering. Having come from a country where people normally vacation in, I’ve gotten used to the exoticisation of holidays, and while find joy in them, don’t hold them to as much significance. The role of Instagram and Facebook, and the pursuit of the perfect ‘insta-worthy’ shot has manufactured this ceaseless image of what a ‘perfect’ vacation looks like, and sometimes it just couldn’t be further from the truth.

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Photo: Athena Intanate

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We seem to forget that sometimes holidays are nestled between the quiet moments. They’re nestled in between the seats of your friend’s car, when you’re driving down tree-lined roads to Future’s bass-heavy music; they’re folded into the tentative mumble of half-formed plans; they’re wrapped in the traipses through touristy sites, even though you’re with locals. Lately it seems as though it’s been harder and harder to enjoy the little things – nothing ever seems grandiose or spectacular enough to participate in, let alone share.

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Photo: Athena Intanate

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This weekend trip to DC and Maryland was anything but exotic; we drove down to Bethesda, a small suburb just outside of DC, on Friday and I was back on campus by Sunday afternoon. And yet, it was perhaps one of the most contentful trips I’ve taken in a very long time. My heart came back incredibly full, as did my camera roll. The weather’s growing tentatively warmer, and even when the wind requires zipped-up jackets and hoodies to be reluctantly pulled on, there exists an ecstatic happiness within the sunlight. We couldn’t do much within less than 36 hours, so we did the best that we could, spending the sun-swept day in each other’s company, driving between houses, and making new friends over plastic bags of Trader Joe’s peanut-filled pretzel bites.

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Photo: Athena Intanate

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Sometimes, we just need to take things one day at a time. The best moments are inlaid in the quietest ones, just waiting for our hands to reach out and grab them by their ubiquitous centres. Urgency can be the killer of joy, and travel wasn’t made for it. It was made for us to fully absorb and comprehend all that is going on around us, and for us to learn from and appreciate what we see.

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Photo: Athena Intanate

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Photo: Athena Intanate

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This weekend trip to DC brought me back that sense of wholly contentful peace, and I am so glad that I got to share it with some of my best friends before we descended into the current climate of chaos.

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Photo: Athena Intanate

Declan and Andrew, it was a pleasure meeting you.

Solomon, Maya and Charlie, I’m so thankful I have you in my life.

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Photo: Athena Intanate

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About the Author: Athena Intanate is a freshman enrolled at Haverford College, Class of 2023. To access additional articles by Athena Intanate, click herehttps://tonyward.com/love/

Athena Intanate: Love is a Lamp-Lit Room

Photo: Atena Intanate, Copyright 2020
 

Photography and Text by Athena Intanate, Copyright 2020

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Love is a Lamp-Lit Room

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I never particularly liked my dorm room until I started putting up my photographs in it. Its yellowed cinder block walls are sticky with age, and the carpeted floor is in dire need of a deep clean. My bed’s propped next to the wall with a gaping one foot gap, unable to be bridged because of an oddly situated pillar jutting out from the corner. But just like any new place, I needed more than to simply occupy that irregularly cuboidal space. I needed to make it mine, in order to make it a place I desired to be. 

Bedrooms are very private spaces, where we are allowed to feel all our emotions in their completeness. We sleep there, we dream there, but we cry, think, and laugh there too. University has been daunting and breathtaking to experience all at the same time, and if my bedroom was a person it has been the one that has comforted me most. There is sadness and despair, that is undeniable, but they are sutured in such close proximity to happiness and love that the fluidity that exists between each individual emotion amalgamates them. This is why I had one protagonist situated in one room – to represent the ever-changing nature of how we feel. ‘Love is a Lamp-Lit Room’ is, if anything, a self-portrait of how I navigate this turbulence. 

There exists a certain shard of despair in needing to get up and go to work at 5am five times a week, as I do. I fumble in the dimness, struggling to tie the laces of my shoes.

After eight hours of shifts on top of four hours of class, sometimes I am rendered exhausted, emotionally drained. All I want to do is curl up and bask in silence. 

Is the selfie a mark of vanity? Or is it a sign of self-love?

Happiness can be found in people, but also the things that I loved doing in the past. Reading has become conflated with homework, but can it bring happiness too? 

These were all thoughts that swirled around in my head as I attempted to reconstruct my own narrative into 35 frames. 

But at the end of the day my room is loved, as am I. I am enfolded in softness – the yellow glow from my bed-side lamp reminds me so.

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Portrait of Athena Intanate by Cindy Ji, Copyright 2020

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About the Author: Athena Intanate is a freshman enrolled at Haverford College, Class of 2023.

Joy Bao: Habitat

Photography by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020
 

Photography and Text by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020

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HABITAT

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noun

  the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.

  informal: a person’s usual or preferred surroundings.

The dictionary told me these are the definitions of “habitat.”

I found the word surprisingly fitting for the photo shoot, as the location itself is never quite the habitat for anybody. The room is located in my friend’s home, who also modeled for the project. It is not her or the other girl’s habitat, because it is the “animal room;” however, this room is also not a habitat for an animal, as it is man-made and not “natural,” and the shorthair cat is a type of domestic animal.

What we express emotionally, most of the time, largely depends on the environment around us. With a seemingly natural yet slightly off daily-life setting, I hope to achieve a gradation not only of human emotions, but also artificiality in terms of the project itself. Having the two models making relatively obvious and dramatic facial expressions while standing beside a cat tree that is clearly not designed for human use, the upper part of the photos shows the self-awareness of a deliberate art project. But as if the true loving and caring nature inside the model have precipitated, the bottom half shows the model looking at the cat, and the whole setting becomes more “habitat-like” as it cannot be more suitable for the emotion and atmosphere. While the cat tree is the main prop in this project, I still wanted to emphasize the homely and domestic setting by using only natural light coming from the windows. Through a series of contrast and paradoxical settings, I hope to draw attention to our emotional state with material surroundings, and, ultimately, the question of where exactly can be our habitat?

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Portrait of Joy Bao by Huiping Tina Zhong, Copyright 2020

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About The Author: Joy Bao is a senior enrolled at Bryn Mawr College. Class of 2020

Tatiana Lathion: The Man, The Basement

Photography by Tatiana Lathion, Copyright 2020
 

Photography, Video and Text by Tatiana Lathion, Copyright 2020

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The Man, The Basement

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In this series, the artist chose to shoot in a basement. Why a basement? Well, in many ways, the basement symbolizes a sort of dark unfinished place, a place where our emotions dwell, where we experience the raw affect of feeling. In reality, many use the basement to store unwanted or unneeded items. It is often a place in a house that remains in a constant need of repair and disorder or casual place of gathering. It is never the first room to be shown to guests and is often times never shown to guests. In horror movies, it is the place where a character meets their death and is often associated with uneasy feelings. A finished basement is never the norm and is often met with surprise as people expect its rough edges. In this series, it symbolizes the place where we hide away our emotions. It represents the darkest and innermost sense of self, where we are allowed to express ourselves.

The subject of this series is a young black male, dressed in all black clothing. In this series of images, he expresses four emotions: sadness, despair, happiness, and love. In the hyper masculine society that we dwell within, there exists a societal standard that inhibits a free, uncritical expression of emotion from the male population. In many ways this is only intensified by the subjects blackness. In our society, the black population in the United States cannot afford to express emotions freely for being fearful of being viewed as weak, irrational, or unhinged by the ruling state. Instead, a burden is enforced in many minority households of this population to uphold and withhold their emotional state from others. Emotional expression is thus rejected two-fold for the subject of this series. However, in this darkened place, the subject is encouraged to express an emotional state. This symbolizes the inner emotional conflict of the subject, which is often never revealed to the general public.

In short, this series of images constitutes a small glimpse into the soul of the subject. It symbolizes the raw emotional state of the self and the continuous growth of human emotion. The subject and the setting are juxtaposed against shinny silver garland that is hung on the exposed pipes of the basement. For me, the reflective material represents an attempt to dress the dark unfinished parts of the human soul. It reflects the light and seems unnatural in the space and yet it adds to a concept of improving the self and allowing for emotional expression. I feel as though self-care and self-love has become this very surface level movement that attempts to improve years of trauma and emotional suppression with a face mask or some trivial material fix. However, to really heal and fix the human soul, it takes work and emotional upheaval of that suppression.

This series, attempts to create a visual representation of an abstracted construction of the holding place for the subjects emotions. It touches on the suppression of emotion by the subject and an expanded identity as well as attempts to reconstruct the artificial attempts to heal emotional trauma.

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About The Author: Tatiana Lathion is a senior enrolled at Haverford College majoring in Political Science and Government.

 

Huiping Tina Zhong: The Stories We Tell

Photography by Huiping Tina Zhong, Copyright 2020
 

Photography and Text by Huiping Tina Zhong, Copyright 2020

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THE STORIES WE TELL

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The Construction of Narratives Through Performativity of Emotions

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This is the first time for me to use an analog camera, hence every aspect of each strip of film fascinates me. The shape of the film reminds me of comic strips, which inherently signify the progress of a narrative, usually chronologically. I set the shooting space to be a space with arches, while each emotion is performed in a different arch, as if the arches are the frame of a stage or a painting, or a hole through which people peek through to view early forms of motion pictures. Different emotions are signified through different pieces of accessories on the same body, and sometimes even only through accessories, in other words, the absence of a body. In the schema, time proceeds both horizontally and vertically, and hopefully creating various storylines for each inspector.

In the first arch is sadness. The signifier of sadness is a pilot helmet. In my understanding, a pilot is isolated in the plane, and the helmet reminds me of war. In the first scene, the pilot is sitting by herself, and in the second round, she is embracing herself with sorrow. What happened? Maybe she has lost her fellow soldiers.

In the second arch is love. Looking out, she seems to be waiting for someone, and she seems to be enjoying her time. I chose a colorful skirt to represent the passion and the exuberance of young love. And when the lover arrives, she joyfully jumps in the air.

In the third arch, despair is represented through index, a trace of a body that was once here: gloves, shoes, a big coat, and a hat. It can be interpreted in various ways, but it can signify the loss of a life, which resonates with war, and even with love. Perhaps it is the lover that was lost to the pilot. The two scenes of despair is the same, because an absent body remains absent.

The last arch is happiness. She wears a pair of extravagant sunglasses with a golden frame, in the first scene she seems to be greeting someone happily, but in the second scene she is gone. Where is she? Is happiness now lost? It is open to the readers’ interpretations.

But let us return to the notion of the construction of a narrative. Although the inherent nature of an analog film strip is that it is indexical and chronological, life often does not have a clear plot line, and our memory of life gets entangled together to form our perception of the world, of our existence. This messy mixture of emotions and anachronistic events becomes the narrative that we construct for ourselves, while the difference between reality and performed memory becomes imperceptible.

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Portrait of Huiping Tina Zhong by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020.

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About The Author:  Huiping Tina Zhong is a senior majoring in Art History at Bryn Mawr College.