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  • Indera Tamara

Lemonade Self-Portrait series (2020)

We live in an age where all we know is what we know. But what if we lived in an age where what we know is a meaning, hidden and disguised, for somebody else – a future version of ourselves? What if what we know is a lie, and what we don’t know is the truth?


In the photo series Lemonade, we witness the moments of a woman sucking lemons and finding herself reflecting on the act of doing so. She exists temporarily, and is fixed momentarily. The mirror reflects a paradox between the act of togetherness and isolation that comes with overindulging. This is symbolised through the object of a lemon, reflecting the theme of love. Her body is fixed to the space, and she is adorned in a stylish ensemble of clothing, jewellery, shoes and a bag. She’s together, but messy as her hair remains un-styled, free and knotted. But it’s interesting really. How one can just exist in the image, and remain so silent. Her eyes never meet the viewer and instead they are left looking and, while you are invited to look at her. Separated and perhaps left feeling discomfort – where should you look? Or better so, why is this moment worth looking at?

To look is to discover what seeks to be revealed, so yes we should look closer. The triptych is composed with three images that all assert a different gesture towards the narrative. Firstly, the image on the left displays the artist biting into a bitter, yellow lemon. This is followed by the second image which plays with the use of reflections and shows a split representation of the depicted body type as well as the lemons. Noticeably, in this photograph the lemons are lit and accentuated by the reflection of the mirror, highlighting their significance. This focus is lightly answered in the final image as the artist is seen to be lying with her body, and arms spread and no lemons in her hand… is she dead or staging an act of drama? She looks away from the camera, so it is hard to tell. With lemons around her head, she’s there.

She’s there.

She’s there.

But where?

Her eyes,

Are gone.

Gone.

Gone.

But close.

So personal.

That moment.

She was there for you.

…Perhaps?

But what is this narrative, and what is the reason for the work? The reason for the work is… is… is… to exist. To be seen. To be identified.

The reason for the work is to exist… to be seen… to be identified.

Hello, I am the self-portrait artist depicted in the work and this is a piece of writing that I have done on the day of the private viewing of the photography series.

Sometimes I like to make art, and just make art (without having to explain why and allowing the audience to infer why). But what being at art school has taught me best is that the conceptual focal point of the work enables discussion, reflection and consideration. So what I want this photography series to consider most is the relationship that females have with themselves through the representation of idealised images that are spread through fashion and film outlets.

Through these carefully composed moments, of me adoring myself, exposing my body and capturing a moment of pure confusion i.e. sucking a lemon - why would that be fun?, I want to highlight the displacement that remains around us every day. As an ordinary-looking woman, we are displaced – whether we admit it directly or not. Perhaps some of us have had better moments than others and therefore don’t feel a sense of displacement. But speaking from my personal experiences as a mixed race woman, I have not always felt beautiful due to how the media represents Eurocentric features as idealised treasures of mainstream society.

This has led me to feeling moments of imbalance, and not totally belonging in the beauty industry around me. But with the power of my camera, the lens, the recorded documentation form that I chose to adopt, deploy and take charge of – I can change this. I can assert myself into the focus, into the discussion and into being seen. Referring back to the initial thought of this writing – we live in an age where all we know is what we know. What if we knew something different? I’d like to end this by asking you a question: if that was a white woman, with perfectly blonde hair, a slender physique and bright blue eyes… what would the photography look like to you? Close your eyes and picture it.





Lemonade (2020) was recently installed for an exhibition at APT Gallery in Deptford called, What does photography have in common with a fork?

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© 2020 by Indera Tamara.