Week 01 – Introduction

Who is Alex Mausolf & why is he studying a Bachelor of Film & Video?

Here’s what I shared on the subject discussion board as a brief introduction of myself.

Howdy all, my name is Alex, well that's my preferred name, but unfortunately my legal name of John has to appear here even though I haven't used it for over thirty years, but that's another story!

I am studying Film & Video, coming from an enjoyment of photography, which recently has seen me shift back to using medium format film in a variety of cameras ranging from technical standards through to Holga's. Adelaide is my location, where I am lucky enough to be close to some of the most amazing landscapes to explore and capture. Explorations of long exposure, architectural decrepitude and surreal/caricature portraiture photography are themes I have been pursuing over the last few years for personal enjoyment.

Here's a couple of images of my Boof, "Fenna" and I, when we posed late last year for an incredibly talented and dear friend as some subjects for her black and white portraiture module of a Diploma course she is undertaking. Fenna is my Assistance Dog in-training for my CPTSD and we probably have another year or so left until she is fully signed off.

Looking forward to meeting more of you all as you introduce yourselves for this subject.

Alex Mausolf
So who am I really? What makes me tick and why am I choosing to invest the next three years of my life to learn and evolve through taking part in the Bachelor of Film and Video?
 
It’s a bit of a story as to how I got here, but in a nutshell I found myself in a really dire place in regards to my mental health and overall well-being back in 2012 and as life would have it I ended up purchasing a camera in the guise of a cheap DSLR kit that I stumbled upon online. The moment that viewfinder hit my eyebrow I was hooked. I could reconnect with the beauty of the world again in all the ways she presented herself to me.
 
Fast forward a couple of years and I held my first exhibition in the Shimmer Biennale Photographic Festival, where I exhibited a range of high contrast black and white long exposure images as a safe expression and exploration of my mental health experiences of slipping in and out of reality as part of my living with CPTSD.
 
Another couple of years later I started holding Mindful Photography groups in local community centres, so that others with mental health experiences could get some regular safe time out in Nature with a camera as their means to easily slip into a state of Mindfulness. I’d rock up with a roller-bag full of photographic gear I had acquired through donations and my own purchases and we’d disappear in the community centre’s bus to all manner of places. This was being held in an area of great financial inequity and hardship for many of the community members there. This went on for a few years, with it evolving according to the desires of the participants including incorporating night photography trips and providing visual capture services voluntarily for community groups too. That had massive two way community benefits, with the participants finally able to feel of value and even experiencing connection with their local communities through their service.
 
It was around this time I started advocating very vocally for mental health care changes within my local government area in the South of Adelaide as a lived experience representative on a panel that was overseeing the remodelling of services here. That in turn led to me becoming a part of SANE Australia’s Mental Health Peer Ambassador Program, which I ended up leaving when it became apparent that I could never talk openly with SANE Australia’s approval about the causes of my CPTSD. That did not sit right with me as it’s only by individuals being open and pushing conversations into and beyond safe places that public perceptions and the unmentioned society wide acceptability of hidden things can change. This has been happening for a long time for themes of racism, domestic violence, mental health, disability and in my eyes childhood abuses need to be dragged uncomfortably into the light for society to mull over in honesty and with integrity.
 
Along the way, while all this was happening I got involved with community groups and environmental groups, providing photographic imagery for all manner of events and actions on a voluntary basis. That eventually led to my acquiring my Photojournalist status and a press card through a European agency, which I have held for nearing three years now.
 
I have also had several other exhibitions, including coming back to the Shimmer Biennale and being a finalist for the Don Dunstan Foundation Award in the 2018 SALA Festival, which still amuses me no end that I was seen worthy to be acknowledged at such a prestigiously high industry level for my photographic long exposure explorations.
 
In 2019 I hooked up with Extinction Rebellion South Australia where I drew on my past production management experience and skills to bring in some semblance of organisation to action capture of visuals. With a plethora of other photographers and no one being willing to take on video capture, I stepped up reluctantly to try it out. The enjoyment and ability to create meaningful messages with video was a rapid progression for me.
 
Most recently I have been using my aerial photography and short form documentary making to uncover and publicly share an ongoing environmental disaster in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide that is happening at the St Kilda Mangroves, where they are being killed off rapidly by leaking salt ponds adjoining the area. I have been working with a collective of people from all manner of groups to try and get our state government to act responsibility on this tragic occurrence, but to no luck thus far. An alliance has been formed of these groups to bare pressure on the government now and some members of parliament have been vocal on the matter, some of whom I have been able to film in formal and informal manners.
 
Finally, I get to what has gotten me here! An overwhelming desire to create micro-documentaries covering environmental and mental health stories and themes with an emotional connection between the viewer and those being documented. There are many skills to do that effectively which I am unaware of as yet, so the logical choice for me was to leap in the deep end and overcome my fears of returning to education, let alone attempting tertiary education for the first time at just over fifty years of age.

2 Responses

  1. Well well well, very impressive. I have lots of admiration for this , life gave me lemons and I made lemonade, everything is possible if you start kind of story. Well done.

    I’m glad you pointed out ‘which I ended up leaving when it became apparent that I could never talk openly with SANE Australia’s approval about the causes of my CPTSD. That did not sit right with me as it’s only by individuals being open and pushing conversations into and beyond safe places that public perceptions and the unmentioned society wide acceptability of hidden things can change. This has been happening for a long time for themes of racism, domestic violence, mental health, disability and in my eyes childhood abuses need to be dragged uncomfortably into the light for society to mull over in honesty and with integrity’

    This is a big issue because we can talk about our physical limitations and troubles and get sympathy and accomodation for the limitations but emotional and mental trouble is not well received even if the mental and the physical may well be intertwined. Nonetheless it it worth speaking and as I have witnessed in classes a person who is seen as ‘difficult’ is helped and accommodated once they choose to share their story.

    You are bravely taking on big issues so I look forward to seeing what yo create as we work through this class.

    1. Thanks, Peter, I have enjoyed web creation for many years after doing a Cert III of Digital Multimedia in the early 00’s and enjoy the ease of that process these days, thanks to the simple WYSIWYG interfaces available to do such as compared to the old days of hand-coding HTML and CSS.

      I never raise my past for sympathy, it’s only ever brought up to raise awareness and to deepen peoples consideration of the unseen aspects of mental health, regardless of the origins of that for any individual. They are indeed ‘big issues’, ugly, prickly ones for society to deal with, but if we come at this from a place of compassion, it doesn’t have to be an awkward journey of understanding.

      The ability to create imagery with intention to elicit an emotional response or a sense of curiosity is something I have explored on a personal level for a while now, and it has become a major aspect within my journey of living well.

      Thanks again for dropping by.

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