Maybe I, too, Was Photosynthesizing is an exploration of the self through lived experiences of light. Based on a written account of memories and passing thoughts triggered by observing light and how it moulds things, this project explores existential anxiety, mental illness, body esteem, and being as the process of becoming. This book includes visual responses to the text, using both digital and analog drawing methods, as a means of viscerally expressing what it is like to feel intolerably light.
It starts off with the description of a memory of a recurring childhood anxiety I had for several years. As a child, I would wake up in the middle of the night and panic because I could not tell if it was dark because it was still night time and all the lights were still off or because I had actually lost my ability to see while I was asleep. I would always anxiously look for a source of light somewhere in my room that could prove I could still see, and it was not until I found that light that I was able to fall back to sleep. This was something I never really gave much attention until I recently realized how linked it is to so many of the other anxieties that I have or have had at some point. The book continues with the ways in which that anxiety about living through the death of light, and ultimately having no control of the way my body functions, evolved into anxieties related to my body image — body dysmorphia and disordered eating — particularly after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 10, as well as depression and more explicitly existential anxieties. Using different mediums, I made a series of unplanned responses to the themes of the text, the feelings generated by the memories, rather than illustrating exactly what it was that I was seeing or thinking of or doing in those moments.
Maybe I, too, Was Photosynthesizing started off as an excuse to explore my weird obsession with the medium of light, but as it came into fruition it became more like a meditation on light and an exploration of myself, of how my anxieties have shifted and evolved throughout the years, but are still linked to the same initial awareness of having no control over my body and to that same initial fear of living through the death of light.
Hannah Nishat-Botero is a Colombian-Pakistani-Dubai-raised-NYC-based visual artist, currently studying both Illustration and Culture and Media Studies at The New School. You can find more of her work on her website, here.