Burnt Fingers, Broken Nose by Rory King

Issue 121

A visual chronicle illustrating the battles and tribulations of my own experience. ‘Burnt Fingers, Broken Nose’ explores and redefines vernacular conventions associated with the photographic image by offering an amalgam of disparate imagery displayed side by side, all whilst managing to retain a level of self-consciousness located at the threshold of representation and abstraction. The works in the series favour a more ambiguous and elusive sequence over one that is defined, concrete, and obvious. The narrative depicted, ebbs and flows through the mind of a pallid figure, their identity never fully revealed, constantly veiled by shadow. It’s with this cryptic energy that unspoken tensions begin to manifest between notions of ‘comfort’ and ‘discomfort’, ‘interior’ and ‘exterior’; ‘organic’ and ‘inorganic’; and the psychological spaces of the ‘melancholic’ and ‘sublime’. Shot on 35mm film, printed as small scale works, and subsequently subjected to degradation and wear, the images reference the evasive tendencies of memory, loss, and trauma through their physical materiality.

Burnt Fingers, Broken Nose is first and foremost, a cryptic insight into the thralls of mental illness that unfortunately plagues not only myself, but also a notable mass of contemporary society. Alternating through ambiguous pairings of self portraiture, domestic environments, still lives, and scenes from the natural world, the work addresses an overarching, indeterminate existential crisis rather than any specific condition. The hybrid space opened up between a documentary approach and intimate conceptual narrative, leaves the audience to grapple with the tensions that emanate from stark imagery of melancholia and the sublime. In turn, this raises the notions that one might be able access these often disavowed psychological states within the embrace of nature. Observations of the natural world fluctuate between barren landscapes and solarised twisted branches, awash with symbolism, mirroring the emaciated form of the central character. These conceptual parallels in the work in some sense, assume the role of poetic visual sentences that punctuate the sequence of the work. Similar to devices employed by the Pre-Raphaelites, or works of art and literature created through the course of the Romantic period, the landscape is presented as a canvas in which we may project have reflected our most soulful musings, our barren insights or our bouts of melancholy. 'Burnt Fingers, Broken Nose' suggests a blatant and unwavering relationship between body and soul, in effort to serve as a didactic reminder that we all must acknowledge our suffering, as is the nature of our condition.

Rory King lives and works in Canberra, Australia.  
To view more of Rory’s work, please visit his website.