Daniel – Below The Surface, 2017

These pictures created with Daniel are part of a series inspired by Edward Honaker. In his remarkable works on depression and anxiety disorders, he transformed his own experiences and emotions into pictures. He intends to stimulate conversations about mental disorders and generate empathy for those affected.

Not everyone lives with a diagnosed mental illness like depression, but (almost) everyone experiences challenging situations like depressive moods, fears or loneliness. These are parts of human life, even if they are rarely shown, seen or discussed openly.

Especially on the social media plattforms we create a superficial world around us, almost completely detached from life. In this superficial world mostly only hyper-aesthetical, idealized beauty and positivity are appreciated. In this bubble, we are increasingly forgetting to look beneath the shiny surfaces. On the contrary, we feel disturbed when cracks appear in our carefully created fake world and real life with real problems seeps in.

This is such a missed chance in my opinion, because especially on social media platforms, there would be a lot of space for an safe, open, compassionate and supportive exchange, from which anyone would benefit. But this space is for the most part reserved for positive things and is also actively defended against "negative influences", including art that is disturbing people by being too sad, too dark, too close to real life.

For me, art is important for processing and showing all aspects of life, especially those which are rarely shown or discussed otherwise. Photography is such a powerful tool and language to express feelings, emotions and thoughts we cannot find appropriate words for.

Many of my pictures are perceived as sad or depressed. I regularly receive messages or comments like "Are you ok?", "Why don’t you take happier pictures?", "Why don’t you show people strong and confident?". It makes me really sad that feeling, showing and discussing negative aspects of life is still considered as a weakness. For me it requires pure strength and courage to open up, to show the scars of your battles and struggles, to show your vulnerability and deeper emotions.

To me, my pictures are mostly silent and reflective at first. But I know that silence is often negatively occupied, for me it is not. For me, the equation is much more complex than "not obviously positive = negative". Silence is a state where the noise and speed of the world are not present, silence gives me the opportunity to pause, contemplate and breathe. It creates a room for me to tell a story, to go below the surface and dig deeper.