Pierce Starre: Growing up as a CODA, and my photography exhibition featuring Deaf people

Posted on December 8, 2015

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I’m a Child of two Deaf Adults; my first language was British Sign Language, and I learnt to speak when I was three.

I grew up experiencing first hand how a Deaf person lives in a world that is predominantly auditory. I was the ears and voice for my family assisting my parents with a whole array of situations that they encountered in the hearing world.

My home was a world away from what was happening outside its door. I lived in a Deaf world. The sound on the TV was frequently muted, as my parents didn’t need it, the environment around me was silent other than the occasional cough, the sound of physical movements and the whirring of the fridge or spinning of the washing machine.

unnamed (1)The real noise I experienced was that of a visual noise where hands were signing and faces and bodies were being expressed. The TV had the occasional subtitled programme – the rest of the time it was deciphering body language or lip reading.

I wasn’t a typical CODA that had a mixture of both hearing and Deaf friends, I felt more comfortable in the Deaf world. I had a large amount of Deaf friends and next to no hearing friends, which later went on to affect my identity.

The last three years have seen me slowly embrace my hearing identity and with that I’ve discovered that missing cog that I needed in my life; “Balance”.

My photography exhibition is a bridge into allowing the hearing world to experience Deaf culture without the embarrassment that may be felt when encountering a Deaf person in real life. Maybe this work will give insight; maybe it will break down the fear and encourage hearing people to think about exploring BSL further.

During the last ten years I’ve worked professionally as an actor and also a filmmaker. I think subconsciously I was looking for an outlet to “express” my feelings about the world around me; it didn’t quite fit with Acting and Film. I took a few years out; it was during this time that I explored art; the more I explored it the more I began to develop my tools and with that a professional practice.

In 2013 I returned to university to do photography with an emphasis on art and since, I’ve gone on to work professionally for the Liverpool LOOK International Photography Festival as a Photographer, and as an Intern at the UK’s leading International Photography festival FORMAT where I have worked directly with the artworks of internationally renown contemporary photographers.

_DSC1466I’ve also worked with RedEye Photography Network and also as an intern for one of the UK’s most influential portrait photographers Brian Griffin on a commission in France, Brian has photographed every one from Margaret Thatcher to Queen, his work is held in collections at the VAM and National Portrait Gallery in London.

My photographic work has led to me having group exhibitions at FORMAT International Photography Festival, and as part of TAKE A GANDER, an independent photography platform I’ve established to give rising photographers the opportunity to exhibit work.

The word “photography” comes from ancient Greek Phos, which means “Light,” Graphe which means Lines” or “Drawing.” The two words together mean drawing with light; to draw is not too dissimilar to British Sign Language in which the hands are used to communicate visually.

I Feel : You See explores how Deaf people feel when they encounter music utilising photography and BSL, it will be exhibited until the 3rd January 2016 at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham as part of Syneasthesia and Vibrations.

For more information go to: http://www.nae.org.uk/exhibition/synaesthesia-and-vibrations-crop-up/93

You can follow Pierce’s work by visiting www.piercestarre.com

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The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.

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