Franziska Peters

2018 - Ongoing

Salutogenese is a photographic documentary focusing on myself, my body and mind as a response to the diagnosis depression. It artistically explores my personal search for a connection to the inner and outer world. At the same time it elaborates the longing for healing and well-being while searching for answers to questions like how I can be a safe place for myself (again).

The title Salutogenese combines the two latin words salus, which means health or well-being, and the term genese, which stands for development and genesis. The salutogenetic concept refers to a model that addresses the factors and dynamics central to the development and preservation of health. With this approach the alternative medicine pursues the question of how people can develop healthy. It is thus to be understood as a complementary concept to the pathogenetic approach of the conventional medicine, which focuses on the development of disease and how illness emerges.

Health is therefore seen not as a condition but as an individual process to which factors of risk and protection as well as elements of self-healing powers are of enormous importance. Only those who find ways to design their own (inner) space can really relate and connect with their environment without losing sight of it and themselves.

The ongoing portrait is accompanying me through a time of struggle and healing - mentally and physically. Salutogenese uses photographic self-portraits, photographs of personal memory sites and diary entries to document a part of the recovery process. At the same time it captures an intimate snapshot of a constant change as a contemporary witness to it all.

Why did I get sick? When and where did I lose sight of myself and my needs? What puts me under pressure? What nourishes and inspires me? Who am I without my tension?

I asked myself these questions over and over again but did not find answers to it. After feeling sick and blue for quite a long time, I came to realize that I had lost passion in the things I had always admired. Running out of strategies to cope with my struggling to get better, I decided to do what I was used to and what I have always loved - taking pictures.

Making myself the centre of my work was not an easy decision. I had to push myself to take off my clothes and to confront myself with my own body - to which I had basically lost any connection to. I also had to overcome doubts and feelings of shame to capture these intimate images when I was feeling most vulnerable. But every single picture helped me to feel more comfortable in my own skin. The naked body as a picture of the origin and thus also of nature is the central means of expression. My body in its nudity acts as a blank surface without distraction by any kind of material.

I went back to drab places of my childhood, approached constructed spaces and came in contact with nature, realizing that through a change of perspective you can always discover new things in the familiar. In doing so, I came to understand how close symmetry and chaos; perfection and disruption and ultimately; illness and health are. These opposing forces do not only play a role in the internal process of healing: the topics are central to the implementation of the work.

With myself being more open to my environment and the people around me, I started talking freely about my personal experiences, the types of stress and fear I was going through. With this I am hoping to be able to make my contribution in slowly changing peoples minds about depression itself in all it various forms as well as rethinking prejudice mindsets and beliefs. Hopefully resolving some of our society’s stigmas and tabus.

Apart from their personal relevance to me, I think that the topics of depression and health will be more and more relevant to us. We are a growing, achievement-oriented society, in which the individual is less important than the profit and in which even meditation and yoga are misused for self-optimization. These are ongoing developments that make it important to set opposite dynamics. In addition, the social relevance is growing by the increasing number of people suffering from mental and psychosomatic problems and by the fact that those who are affected become measurably younger. Working on this subject is part of my healing process and also an attempt to express my desire for more transparency and openness in dealing with issues of the human psyche. The holistic view of our existence towards a shift regarding society’s view on health is a worthwhile goal for which I would like to make a contribution with my work.

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  • I was suffering from massive insomnia for almost a year. This is the view out of my kitchen window at night. It seems that at least one other person is up all night too.

  • Who am I without my tension?

  • Feeling limited and trapped.

  • Sometimes this was all I got from the outside. The light shining through the window. But as I learned over and over again there is no light without darkness.

  • I was hospitalized in a psychosomatic clinic for 5 weeks. In art therapy I made this head out of clay. It's like a mythical creature symbolizing different stages of transformation.

  • This is the view out of my grandparents' upper bathroom window. I recovered memories of my childhood looking through this window, wondering what my life could have been like if things would have gone differently. A lot has changed behind the window, the view remains the same.

  • My hometown. Bochum, Germany.

  • My bathroom on a sleepless night.

  • I ran to every doctor there is to find out what was physically wrong with me. Just to realize that my body was only reacting to the stress it was under and that in order to get well again I had to look under the surface, finding ways to heal mentally.

  • Natural pond. Uffenheim, Germany.

  • A friend of mine burned her dissertation. I have to practice letting go.

  • Always driven by perfection I needed to make something figure like, almost fragile, but strong from the inside. Two people (not) interacting.

  • "I'm opening myself up. Reveal myself to me. And very deep back there, in the darkest thicket, in the furthest corner this is where I am waiting. I smile and I shine. I gaze at myself. Let myself to me, I am trying to approach me." Note from my diary during that time. The original German note says: "Ich leg mich frei. Offenbare mich mir selbst. Und ganz tief dort hinten, im dunkelsten Dickicht, im hintersten Eckchen, da, da warte ich. Ich lächle, strahle mich an. Lass mich zu mir, lass mich an mich heran."