Christina Heurig

images · art direction · set design

Experimental doppelgänger portraits: psychological self-exploration in 2020

2020 has brought some positive changes to my private life (not only because of COVID): fresh creativity, a new relationship and a ton of insight into my psychological clockworks. I used exerpimental twin self portraits to reflect on (personal life) issues to change them for my better.

See more images in the post!

 

 

COVID-19 gave me time to explore the doppelgänger syndrome in images.

The year has been a huge mess for many, the force of destruction and anxiety on every level (because of Covid-19) struck hard. I had some truly anxious moments in the beginning of quarantine but soon understood that this can be a great time for me, I must confess.

I thrive highly on alone-time, imagining stories and scenarios, intellectual discussions with my friends and time to work creatively uninterrupted for days.  As an artist, freelancer, introvert and highly self-autonomous personality I was used to isolation, self-management and getting my work done isolated from the outside world, so working alone was truly great!

I have always been fascinated by the doppelgänger phenomenon and decided to give it a try. I experimented with the questions:

  • Can I put more than one version of me inside a picture and make it look real?
  • What stories can I tell through this?
  • How much can I alter myself?
  • What poses / situations work in photoshop (to put them together)?

I did not yet attempt to create a full series with a consistent look or theme, but merely took the freedom to play with it.

As an artist I use art many times to explore emotional, spiritual and psychological things in my images. In the last months I decided to use my images to reflect on specific issues in my personal life… because I slowly felt I needed some attention there. Let’s dive in!

 

 

A split personality: the professional vs. the real person.

On a professional level, I achieved 2018 and 2019 many things I wanted (I put a lot of effort into it). But during these years, I sometimes neglected my personal development. On the personal level, I wasn’t truly happy with myself. I constantly felt a lingering loneliness, sometimes even with people. With some more, with some less.

Sometimes I felt, due to the attention I gained professionally, like a split personality. Like someone who has suddenly two personalities (the private and the professional one)… and one is successful, seen, loved, appreciated (the professional), but on the private level, the feeling of being ‘seen’ and feeling truly ‘accepted’ really was missing.

I like intellectual reflections a lot, so I started digging (reading, journaling, dreaming) into my past. I realized that I felt like this split personality has always been there like a shadow. It hung over every human interaction I started: I only felt loved if I ‘DID’ something, if I had something to show. I always felt like the ‘odd one out’, the silent girl that does not fit anywhere. One that does not belong and sat in the corner of a class room reading.

I cultivated this lingering feeling of ‘loneliness’ and occult existence into a mental freak show circus attraction: the weirder and more beautiful, the better. It is embarrassing to say: I want people to stare (at my weird collection of weird objects and beautiful art), because I want to feel loved… just like add odd freak show attraction. It gets me seen.

This is one of the reasons why I cultivated my skills and interests for beauty, weirdness and historical things into art. Into something professional: worked on it, got ‘good’ at it. I thrive on ‘working on something’ and having something to ‘show’: I can hold my art as a shield in front of me and people will love my art. And I ‘somehow’ will feel like they love me. Weird, isn’t it?

I still felt all those years like a split personality, where somehow, both parts (the professional and the private person) are not truly one – because one seems loved, one doesn’t.

 

 

The dichotomy of hunting and hiding: I hid from intimate relationships and hunted distant people

After the quarantine, I ended my 5-year relationship. It was one of the hardest things I have done in many years and it took me many months to gain insight and clarity why it was necessary.

During quarantine, I had enough mental, calm, sweet, candle-lit space to analyze my social and psychological behavior on a grave-deep level. I looked at my past and all the people I connected with (or ran from)⁠. I read books about attachment theory, how people use different languages to show love and re-checked my past relationships. The result was: I was hiding from true, openly communicated love and went for the intellectual, emotionally-surpressed type that made me (illusively) feel ‘safe’… because if people won’t show strong emotions, they can’t hurt me – right?


Inside me: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They wrestle to chase (or run from) affection.

I started to realize this (truly intensive!) struggle because I engaged into a new relationship. Different this time: with an individual who is actually open and in-touch with his emotional landscape and who will show affection in many ways. We are (I am!) forced to share true vulnerability and openness.

This bursts open a coffin of unknown fears and unhealthy skeletons from the past: how scared I am of true intimacy, how afraid I am to be left alone and how fast a part of me pulls back internally. ⁠

I felt reminded of the story “The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” : a tale about people with an unpredictably dual nature: outwardly good (Dr. Jekyll) , but sometimes shockingly evil (Mr. Hyde).

I feel like my personal Mr. Hyde is the primal instinct that pulls away from emotionally close people instantly. It even hurts them if they won’t stay distant or do not respect my space quite aggressively. My Mr. Hyde whispers to me bad things. He tells me scary childhood stories about how evil people are, how they will for sure hurt me, leave me and that nobody should enter ‘my space’ if I want to stay safe.

This leaves the other part (the lost, confused Dr. Jekyll) in a dusty basement: lonely and debriefed of love and true affection. Over the years this Dr. made other friends to soothe his longings: dead animals, beautiful objects and a huge castle (aka my flat) which protects him from harm.⁠.. as he uses to believe.

This understanding has been quite painful, but very freeing in the last months. I slowly see behavior patterns inside me and how I act them out with people – in nearly all parts of life. I am now on my way to chase Mr. Hyde out of my body… someday.

 

Overall, these portraits are quite fun to create, they help me to practice, but also on an intellectual level. So I guess, some more will follow in 2020 and 2021!