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What I'm talking about when I talk about pictures

PHOTO: I brought the gaze of anthropology into the camera lens, it became my optics. The experience of several years in San Francisco,
or the experience of having a little brother with schizophrenia – what does it mean for the pictures?

I'm trying to figure out why I'm taking pictures, making movies.

What events in life take you in a certain direction, or make you make a complete U-turn? Were there moments with mom in the photo shop to hand in film reels, the excitement and the wait for a whole week before you could sit down and look at the pictures together? Was it the landmark incident when my brother got his first psychosis and disappeared into another reality? Was it in the face of anthropology's way of seeing and understanding the world in the changing years when I studied at university?

What exactly is a story? What is a picture? «Is the picture looking at you, or am I looking at the picture?»

In the work on the film Indian Summer, where I filmed my brother living with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, I searched among photographs – archived moments, hard copies of reality. I remember I took care of one of the pictures to show him.

San Francisco

The colors in the pictures have faded, and the life of the chemicals has expired; a red color streak lies like a veil over the subject. Brother is light in the hair, smiles – a little mischievous. He is wearing yellow and blue cotton pajamas. I have bangs and my hair. . .

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Ellen Ugelstad
Ellen Ugelstad is a filmmaker with a degree from San Francisco in California. She is now working on a new conceptual documentary about coercion in psychiatry. See also www.twentyonepictures.com

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