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Alex Brugman

When Will My Reflection Show - The Doorway to Identity

There’s something about being in the same space with another human being. It’s not the conversation; we can replicate that. It's not being able to visually see the person; you can see them on the screen. There’s something about them being in the same space. Something’s missing right now. But what exactly is it? Maybe the fact that you can’t associate yourself/your identity with any other space at the moment, especially space in relation to other humans, is what we are missing. All of our identity is contained within our home. 


Everything at the moment is related to space. We have to stay 2m apart. We have to stay in the same exact space almost all of the time. We have to use the same space to work, exercise, relax etc. So how is our space connected to who we are and our sense of self? 


Are we slightly different people in different spaces? It would seem we are; most of us are different at work to how we are with our families, for example. But what happens when all those spaces merge into one? Do our identities merge into one, the same as the space? Do all of our identities, in the process of merging, splinter off? 


Your house is the main space you're in, it is the only space you can now associate with you. I have photographed people in their doorways to signify this stagnation of space, having the home as the one space that is now truly yours. Before you could go to university, and that space was then associated with you, or you could go to a friend's house and you could place yourself in that space usually, like you fitted in. But now, that space is solely the house. Outside doesn’t seem like yours anymore nor does anywhere else. So your whole being/identity is within your 4 walls. 


The pictures are arranged in a grid, with a black and white picture as a reflection of the colour picture. This is a play on identity, seeing as it’s a reflection of ourselves during this apocalyptic-feeling time.




What struck you from what the other expressed?



the notion of multiple identities starting to splinter off without the vital presence of diverse companionship 


the articulation of  ‘stagnating’ space indoors and also feeling mis-placed in  familiar outdoor-contexts  


The arrangement of the images, with multiple images creating one unit in the form of a grid, conveyed a sense of overview. Within, it detailed an impression of the lockdown as experienced by multiple people. The use of the double-image spoke to me of the dual identity that arises from lockdown, professional and personal lives merging in the home. I felt it also gave the effect of a mirror, as if perhaps the photos were performative, with something hidden below the surface. 


I liked the idea of the stagnation of space; it reminded me of what Francis Bacon said of pools of water, and how delightful they are while the water is fast moving, and how stale they become when not.


I laughed out loud when I saw the comic strip. Such a simple drawing which is so relatable. It reminds me of our crazy ability to  communicate complex emotions through memes.


I am particularly partial to the collage photos of people outside their doors, the duplication of the colour and monchrome photos is rather effective. I love the concept because the interaction between us and our homes is a complex one at the moment and I feel Alex's photo series illustrates that effectively.


I loved the energy of your work and the mixture of colour photos with black and white photos. The way that reflections of images came together in a v-shape evoked explosion or growth. I loved seeing the individuality of people – through clothes, gardens, pets and posture. Doorways are so interesting – they’re internal because they belong to ‘your house’ but they also involve a presentation to, and interaction with, the outside world. A great idea to photograph them and loved the behind-the-scenes video you made. 


How is that relevant to your experiences and did you have any new thoughts / reflections as a result of the piece?



lockdown has highlighted how much I under-rated the complexity and communicative wealth of others’ presence in a shared space 


the dis-jointed, wound-down co-vid choreography of moving through urban environments brings to mind daily obstacles for those who do not have the luxury of spontaneous movement and how this needs to be imaginatively addressed as a participatory benefit to all.


the interrogation into shape and identity is interesting in our current situation, which has caused, as you term it, a ‘stagnation of space’. It’s a link I hadn’t thought about much before lockdown, but certainly something I see much more clearly now. It got me thinking about the different sorts of places that people live, with some people much more privileged in terms of space than others, and this is even more apparent during this time than most. The use of black and white contrasted and drained the vibrancy and colour of the left-hand images, felt sombre, hinting at the isolating effects of lockdown which I have noticed. I read your description after looking at the images, and saw your intention to relay an apocalyptic theme, which comes across. I found the concept intriguing, trying to gauge aspects of the subject’s identity from the doorstep. The individual choices of whether the door was open or closed, for instance, is interesting and the variation between people with different objects/props - revealing a little more about them. I enjoyed observing the array of different slippers – reminding the viewer that these people weren’t leaving the house much, and this works to memorialise the strange time we are living in.  


I'm lucky in having a house broken up into different spaces; I try to make a habit of doing different things in different rooms. I like older houses because they tend to have more separate spaces. 


There are door-closed people, and door-opened people, and people with such posh front doors you're not really sure whether they're open or closed.


I like Alex’s focus on identity. I did not realise how similar our pieces were. I found that the door to my house seemed like both a prison and a safety net from the entire world. Exiting the door in recent times would mean I would put on a identity of distrust and social avoidance – a far cry from what I used to do.


Alex's cartoon perfectly captures how I feel about lockdown; it is a form of relentless drudgery and time seems to be slipping past without our being able to stop it. The cartoonish simplicity of the piece undercuts this, creating a more hopful sense that has helped me rethink my approach to lockdown.


During lockdown our homes became more important. People decided to improve their homes more, and disparities between flats/houses/houses with gardens etc became more important. The importance of home to identity was emphasised and I think this project was a timely and useful reminder of this.

I loved how cheerful everyone was looking when they were photographed. I wonder whether your relationships with the people that you photographed influenced the piece at all. With limited social interaction, I enjoyed being photographed and having the opportunity to chat. I agree with you that sharing a space with someone is very special. I’m very comfortable around you so didn’t mind being photographed in my holey slippers and decided to pose flamboyantly with flowers! I expressed a certain identity with you that might not otherwise have been expressed if I’d been photographed by a stranger. Perhaps a photograph isn’t just about the ‘subject/object’ but about the person taking it too. Perhaps identity isn’t just about the individual person but about others around them too. 

Visitors reflecting

Very much liked this concept of doorways leading to a space that you may or may not be happy to be confined to during lockdown - and that no one else is allowed to enter during this time. Loved the colour images reflecting black & white, and the residents adopting their own poses. Your short video captured perfectly the strange, empty streets we have all experienced recently and your cartoon strip the despair at the sudden loss of routine and familiarity. I thought this was poignant and reflective representation of these extraordinary times, well done Alex! (Tracy)

Great, Alex! Doorways into and out of personal space, and a joyous jaunt though Sunny Stokes Croft with a sound-track to match. The comic strip says it all too. Original, timely, witty - and a lasting souvenir of the Time of COVID-19. Thanks! (Gareth)

Your Reflections

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