CONTENT WARNING- NUDITY
No Man’s Lands / Dionne (formerly Jason)
No Man’s Lands (2016-present) is an on-going art photography project that uses a collaborative approach to convey the stories of male-identified persons in “limbo situations” due to political, social, mental or economic factors. The photographs or short videos are accompanied by short statements by the participants.
In this series (9 works of which only 4 are exhibited), Dionne Collins (formerly known as Jason Collins) contributed diary entries, a voice testimony and a letter that he wrote to his former university tutor. In the preliminary conversation to the photoshoot, Dionne explained that he would like to share with others his experiences of drug abuse, in particular crystal meth.
Gil is continuing to work with Dionne on a small publication of photographic material, accompanied by text entries.
"Hi ..., how are you doing?
It’s been a few years since I’ve last seen you, but at this juncture I’m stuck.
Throughout my time in Brighton I can’t say it’s been a smooth ride. As you’re aware from when we last spoke, I expressed how I was suffering with hearing voices and experiencing paranoia in epic proportions. Unfortunately, over the past few years this has not subsided. I had my first attempt last year. My second the other day. I often am in fear, drowning in anxiety and a deepening depression. I lost my way back home in Cheltenham, turning to drugs and sex as opposed to dealing with life head on. I moved on to Brighton and this only carried on, but with harsher drugs, and harsher conditions, facing homelessness and repeated sofa surfing with strangers, sometimes trundling my cases around in the middle of the night in the pouring rain on Grindr searching for a man to take me in for the night. I’ve been blessed with the hospitality of others; without it I wouldn’t have made it this far. I will be forever grateful and will in turn dedicate what life I have left to helping those in need. Starting with those who have taken a path similar to my own. They must know they are loved; someone is there to shelter them and bring them back from the darkness that psychosis and chemsex can cast on victims. I’m not going to sit and make this a pity party or sit and blame those who have done their utmost to support me and pull me out from the tides that sweep me deeper beneath the waves. I often envision myself in the ocean. The water beneath pitch black, darkness surrounding me, engulfing me, yet I’m striving to reach the crystal clear above me. I’m trying yet I’m not moving. Where did Jason Collins go? Will I ever get him back? Is he going to die? My mind whirls around constantly with anxieties, particularly about how the world around me perceives me and perhaps misjudges me. I hear laughing, I hear everyone around me whisper my name, say negative and nasty comments. This may or may not be the case, but it’s the reality I’m living. In these ‘episodes’ I swear I can barely breathe, I trip over in the street or walk funny, I can’t control the overwhelming fear. In these moments, I want to die. Even with my drug use cutting down to a few days off, and usage generally speaking is a lot less these days, I’m still experiencing worsening symptoms. The shell, zombie, that roams St James Street. Arms covered, people may see the pain I’ve caused myself. Scars up and down both arms, face drawn, bags sink beneath my eyes. Ugly. Worthless. Unbearable, even to look in a mirror. Something is missing? A diagnosis of complex PTSD has me asking myself many questions. Where when what why how. Pinpointing seems pointless at this moment in time, but I feel there is undiscovered pain beneath this ‘happy go lucky’ facade. I’m on the verge of something right now, and it’s either for my benefit or for my demise.
My analogy for the psychosis I experience is myself in a spotlight, with darkness surrounding me. People begin to whirl around me in a circle again and again, faster and faster, whispering my name, speaking out all of the negative things they perceive me as, mumbling so that you can’t quite make out exactly what they’re saying but you can, just. I’m sat in the middle with a needle plunged into my arm searching for a vein - this is paranoia.
Sorry to bombard you there. This needed to be voiced and you are a confidant who understands me and understands suicide and trauma. I’m not sure what advice I expect back, whether any advice. I suppose I just needed someone to open up to without any judgement and with a mind open and educated with experience who can maybe shed some light on a brighter future.
I look forward to speaking with you soon ... Thank you, Jason"
Gil Mualem-Doron is an award-wining socially and politically engaged artist working in various media; primarily photography, digital art, installation and performance using participatory practices. His work investigates issues such as urban history, social justice, identity, transcultural aesthetics, migrations and displacement.
To see more about the No Man’s Lands project please visit his Instagram: @Gil_Mualem_Doron
Alternatively, you can view his work in SEAS' August 2020 exhibition, 'Queer Heterotopias'.