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 I didn’t Know My Own Strength

Dexter McLean is a a portrait photographer with a focus on representation of disabled people. He recently graduated from studying photography at Middlesex University completing a BA followed by a Masters, achieving a first and distinction respectively. He presents a showcase of images that tell a personal story of life in lockdown.

I have not properly experimented with self portraiture since 2017 and so for this project I wanted to focus on myself. I wanted to show a different side to being a disabled man in the 21st century during a pandemic.

This series of self portraits documents my current life style showing daily activities and tasks that I do around my home. In response to the theme of connectivity I highlight the isolation that Covid has forced us to go through, and emphasise the difficulty of staying connected in this time. Despite living with my family sometimes you need to speak and interact with other people, and after a year of lockdown a sense of isolation within my home has been inescapable.

Sometimes I think about how lonely I am and I wonder if the able bodied would understand that feeling of loneliness in the same way. Since the lockdown I feel that people have been given a taste of disabled life, a chance to see, and feel, what I have to go through in some form everyday.

As a disabled person you are already somewhat isolated from society as its harder for you to access and interact with. Lockdown has exaggerated this feeling. This is my current reality and I highlight that sense of isolation through candid self portraits that lean towards a documentary style.

This is something that I have thought about in response to the opportunity of this commission and the theme of connectivity given the limited resources at my disposal. Because of the virus I can’t use a studio or invite models into my home. I have experimented with self portraits before and it is an avenue that I want to continue to explore and develop.

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