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Residency project plan and background


Defining the Assisted-Self Portrait

I believe collaborative work honours human vulnerability, interdependence and the need for communities of care. A method of working I term the assisted-self portrait aims to put this idea of collaboration as care into practice. The assisted self-portrait is the vision of the individual being represented, brought into being by the assistance of another. I view this collaboration as both active and passive, the active is the process of creating the piece together with another at the same time, the passive is through recontextualizing archival images or film either from the public domain or with the context of the other artist, but the works are always self-representations. This methodology grew organically between myself and my partner Oscar Vinter as an interdependent disabled partnership. This method not only honours mutual care, but resists silencing and narrative colonisation, as it allows the artist to think critically about how they want to be represented. On my website there are examples of the assisted-self portrait in development.

I recently delivered a work-in-progress video essay titled ‘Resisting the “sick role” through self-portraits’ which explores some of my influences.

For this residency I plan to continue in the digital realm and develop a passively assisted-self portrait experimental film. I will consider using snippets of my written memoir-in-progress, snippets of essays, autobiographical artworks, poetry, short stories, archived personal films and photographs, collages, stock footage and new works I will create during the residency. 

Current plan for film:

Although I am open to change I have a current plan for the work I would like to focus on during the residency. Rather than it being a straightforward narrative, I want the film to resist narrative and explore aspects of my embodiment. I currently have four sequences in mind; nerve pain/general pain, anxiety/panic attacks/dissociation, time and the experience of living beyond my own death. The final section would invoke the writings of Maurice Blanchot to reflect on my own preparations for death and then living beyond that.

Below is an example of where I have previously used archive photos of myself by another artist, along with public domain images to create an assisted-self portrait through digital collage. The piece is called ‘It’s all in your head’ and was made alongside my essay ‘It’s All in Your Head – the Dangerous Legacy of the ‘Sick Role”.

A digital collage photo by Charlie Fitz. There is a vintage sepia photograph in the background of doctors in light robes, head and face coverings. At the front and bottom of the image is a photo of Charlie's face in colour, with a straw hat on. Her head is attached to a black and white image of a nurse putting a facemask on a patient in a bed. In between her shoulder there is text, which says "it's all in your head".

Charlie Fitz

Charlie Fitz is a UK based sick and disabled artist, writer and medical humanities postgraduate at Birkbeck, where she is a recipient of a Wellcome Trust studentship. She is a member of Resting Up Collective and of the arts practice group TRIAD³. Her multiform projects broadly explore experiences of illness and trauma. She worked as the engagement assistant for ‘Coming Out’ (2017) was on the activist panel consulting on curatorial and learning strategies for the ACC exhibition ‘Woman, Power, Protest’ (2018) both Arts Council Collection(ACC) Exhibitions at Birmingham Museum & Art gallery (BMAG). She was a guest speaker at Robinson College Feminist Society at Cambridge University, presenting on Feminist art & activism (2019). The same year she produced her first joint exhibition ‘Radical Acts of Care’ (2019) in collaboration with Oscar Vinter. The exhibition was hosted online and in person in London and Manchester. Fitz had work in Profile Gallery’s ‘Virtual Exhibition'(2020), Oddball Gallery’s ‘Locked/Down'(2020) and ‘See You At Home'(2021) by Able Zine x Kiosk N1C. She currently has artwork in the virtual show ‘Exhibition: Work in PROGRESS’ by Triad³ and has an upcoming group show for women’s history month called HYSTERICAL in aid of UN Women UK and Mermaids Charity. She has had short fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art published.