The pandemic hit and I was trying to grapple with all of my losses, and losses of the world. While trying to understand loss, I was able to see the string of losses throughout my life. Ambiguous Loss is a loss that occurs without closure or clear understanding. This kind of loss leaves someone searching for a missing piece, and thus complicates and delays the process of grieving. This often results in unresolved grief and trauma. I was able to learn to understand and now label my missing pieces.
In order to understand how to produce this body of work visualizing an absence, I started with a Google survey, asking people about their ambiguous losses. I created collaborative playlists on Apple Music and Spotify, inviting people to add music answering “What could Ambiguous Loss sound like?” I created a research wall of sticky notes with my own free flowing thought of words and drawings. I opened this up on my instagram stories to allow others to add to it. I created a hotline, The Loss Hotline. I wanted people to call or text in to answer “tell me about your losses.”
Ambiguous loss is hard to define and comes to us in a multitude of waves. This is reflected in the output being in a nesting quality, or chapters. The body of work follows five autobiographical chapters – Self Existence, Self Reliance, Self Destruction, Self Control, and Self Compassion. The work is made up of two components. The physical component that is a 12x12, 110 page, print book. The digital component is a film on web, on ambiguousloss.space.
The content is made up of mostly original text, with sprinkled in song lyrics from Solange and Frank Ocean. Imagery consists of family archival movies and photographs, original fashion editorial stories, and original graphic design work. All art direction, production, and editing was done by myself, MaKara Blake.