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UCA student wins major photography award for digital self portrait

Athena Carey, an MFA Photography student, has been named the winner of the Self Portrait Category at the 12th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, which collectively received around 5,800 submissions from artists in 72 countries.

With her art, Reiteration, now set to feature as part of the 12th Julia Margaret Cameron Collective Exhibition, which will be held in Barcelona next April, the UCA Farnham student says that the acknowledgement has given her a great sense of accomplishment.

“I work primarily towards my own meaningful artistic expression, but it’s nice to also have my work recognized by others,” Athena explains. “JMC is one of my photography heroes and the JMC Awards are quite well regarded. Together that makes this an especially rewarding achievement.”

Athena, who uses themes including feminism, the strength of women, personality and identity as sources of inspiration for her work, describes Reiteration as a piece which addresses the non-fixed reality of personal identity.

“In this work, I address the reinventions of myself. The experience is personal to me but I wanted the images to be less about me and more about the process, so I chose a style that allows the use of human form without identity.

“Inspired by Floris Neussus, Robert Rauchenberg and Mark Arbeit’s human photograms, I sought a way to make this type of image digitally. I built a frame with a clear surface for the subject, lit from above with a camera below. This “fauxtogram” process recreates the elements required for a photogram: light – subject – photosensitive surface. Each fauxtogram is a separate exposure of one person. Some poses are near foetal, reflecting the emergence of a new being and others are falling, representing the unintentional nature of change involved in the casting off of old selves.

“In the collaged image, the fauxtograms have been inverted, as a darkroom contact print is, to give the sense of backlighting. They are arranged on a blurred image of lace, which represents the femininity subtly expected of women throughout the world. This creates the reiteration pool from which each iteration (of me) is both created and recycled.”

In addition to her award in the Self Portrait category, Athena also received an honorary mention for Reiteration in the Nude and Figure category, as well as an honorary mention in the Digital Manipulation category for an additional piece of work.

The 12th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards winning entrants were chosen by judges Julia Fullerton-Batten, Andrea Star-Reese and Laura Pannack. 

Athena Carey Reiteration