Emily Ryalls

https://www.instagram.com/emryalls/

‘These Ties That Continue to Bind’  The women here, myself included, are part of a community interlinked by a disbelief regarding our chronic condition as a result of the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine was introduced in 2007 and now accounts for more than 60% of all reported adverse reactions – It is the second most profitable vaccination in the world. In it’s current stages, the project has covered ground in Denmark, England and Wales but will continue to document the controversy, developing both geographically and politically. In 2013 the Japanese government withdrew its recommendation to use the vaccine and in 2015 Denmark filed a report with the EMA, as well as setting up regional centres to address the adverse reactions that many girls were facing.  The project has many layers, all married within the photo book ‘These Ties That Continue to Bind’. Bringing together a collection of photography, performance and documentation – visualising a geographically disjointed and often misrepresented group of females.  In our current social and political climate anyone who questions vaccinations are deemed part of the ‘anti-vaxx’ movement, which is said to be one of the biggest threats to our society. The project juggles this stereotype, alongside the ‘mad woman in the attic’ ideology, an ideology which has haunted women’s healthcare for decades – featuring as the groundwork for some of our classic literature such as Jane Eyre and The Yellow Wallpaper. Aesthetically the photographs have stayed true to classic black and white photography practices, partly for visuals and partly to reflect the archaic nature of gender disparity in healthcare. In an attempt to further encompass both the beauty and coinciding torment of the Bronte writings, I decided to produce photographs that allowed me to blur the lines between a divided photographer/subject relationship, exploring my own feelings as well as theirs. Partially influenced by the cathartic element to my meetings with the girls and their mothers.  I began meeting families in Denmark, before moving onto the U.K. Introductions had been made via email and social media, and due to my personal involvement in the community, there was a sense of familiarity which eased some vulnerability. In further pursuit of easing any discomfort, I sat beside the girls for the photograph. It became a way for us to be visualised, united in our own narrative. A question posed by Jo Spence and Joan Soloman in the book What Can a Woman Do with a Camera? remains instrumental to my work – ‘How then, can we make our subjective selves visible?’. I battled this on many occasions and anticipate that I will never come to a conclusive answer, but as the project progresses, I see how self- portraiture and performance can aid us in placing our voice in a larger social and political context.  The performance element to the work is something which to some extent is present throughout the entirety of the project. The act of our first meeting, two people who had been just an online presence, united through the knowledge of each other’s personal and private medical history. Standing together to create a photograph, as a document of that initial meeting and our intertwined experience. This photograph would then go on to stand alongside other photographs, of other meetings – becoming our visual diary.  Despite political views tainting initial perceptions of the work, its important to note even without the suspected implications of the vaccine, the young women and girls within this community (along with their mothers) are all subjected to abuse, mental health misdiagnoses and a lesser standard of care due to vocalising their concerns about this vaccination.  Creating a platform through photography for issues which concern women’s healthcare has always driven my practice. My performative series ‘The Yorkshire Moors’ which was an extension of this body of work, was celebrated within the NTU degree show and the London Free Range show, with the addition of an exhibition opportunity at the New Art Exchange earlier this year. With plans in place to extend this project within the U.S next year, I’m interested in the political development of my practice over time and how a change in narrative could effect the work visually.

Venue- Backlit

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