Joanne Coates and Heather Agyepong create space for their authentic
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Joanne Coates and Heather Agyepong create space for their authentic identities

The artist’s own journey of discovery is what led to the creation of her new Jerwood/Photoworks commission, ego death. The work, inspired by psychiatrist Carl Jung’s concept of ‘The Shadow’, explores aspects of the personality deemed inappropriate – repressed and shamed by societal norms. The series of self-portraits, each a double exposure, capture Agyepong as she embodies and confronts seven different characters: The O Daughter, The Saboteur, D is for…, Georgina, Lot’s Wife, Only Pino and Somebody Stop Me.

“I want this work to be like a celebration of the acceptance of parts of myself that I’ve banished for a long time,” Agyepong explains. “But also mourning those parts that I’d banished too, mourning the distorted versions of myself that I’d internalised and releasing them.” The process for achieving this was an emotional one for Agyepong who, using her skills as an actor, spent time embodying every character. With no plan or staging, she would then spend just 90 minutes creating each of her images. It was, she says, important to set this boundary – not to spend too long inhabiting each deeply emotional space.

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