Private images tasks mix each reflection and exploration. Usually photographers will discover an space or topic they’re linked to and use this medium to grasp and symbolize it. For Mexico Metropolis-based Annick Donkers, her photobook Un-Recognized each retells a formative expertise witnessing a UFO whereas connecting with others who shared related alien encounters. By means of portraiture, astral imagery, and heavy analysis into the mysterious world of theories, she offers a secure area for these private tales to be obtained, as they assist develop upon the various questions of humanity’s place within the universe.
Annick grew up in Flanders, Belgium, the place she spent many nights as a toddler stargazing exterior her dwelling. One evening she witnessed an odd astral phenomenon and was captivated by what her personal two eyes couldn’t clarify.
I used to be 10 years previous strolling again dwelling with my mother on a chilly December evening, after I noticed one star transferring northwards in our path. Once we arrived on the home, we noticed how this star had was an oval metallic form, with lights round and no sound in any respect.
Quickly after that, Annick’s father gifted her the guide Chariots of the Gods by Erich Von Däniken, and he or she was fascinated by the theories of aliens visiting historical civilizations. This childhood expertise guided Annick’s curiosity and helped her discover her solution to others with related beliefs.
Whereas dwelling in Mexico, I labored rather a lot round perception after doing a narrative about Afro-Mexican healers within the state of Guerrero. As I started to contemplate a brand new topic, I believed again to the expertise I had at 10, so I began to search for individuals with fascinating tales about UFOs and alien encounters.
Annick sought to create a guide with tales from those that consider in aliens, offered with out judgment or scrutiny. When she began to analysis and join with these within the UFO neighborhood, she found their reluctance to speak in confidence to others for worry of being dismissed or ridiculed, so it grew to become necessary to Annick that she created her guide to have an unbiased voice.
I began my search in 2017, probably not realizing what I might encounter… For me it was not a query of “is it true,” it’s not a journalistic report, it’s about their beliefs and what’s true to them.
As soon as she had a topic in thoughts, Annick first began her analysis by attending the UFO Congress in Phoenix, an annual convention that has been inviting individuals to discover extraterrestrial theories since 1991. She thought that by sharing her personal private story others would in flip speak about their very own experiences, however quickly discovered that this close-knit neighborhood didn’t instantly welcome her in.
It was as in the event that they had been holding a secret they usually didn’t wish to share it with outsiders.
The occasion itself was overwhelming for Annick, as she wove by massive crowds alone, uncertain of who to method and the way to connect with the others in attendance. The Congress was strict about no pictures, making the convention a troublesome first alternative of analysis for her photobook. To soak up some info from her time amongst different believers, Annick selected just a few visitor audio system at random, hoping the discussions would assist kickstart her undertaking.
My first time in Phoenix was not a giant success, nevertheless it was a place to begin to dig deeper. Once I went again to Mexico, I contacted Jaime Maussan — Mexico’s most well-known UFO journalist — and went along with his tv staff to Peña de Bernal in Queretaro the place we did a sky watch all evening.
That journey led Annick to fulfill her first contactee, the proprietor of the place she stayed with Jaime’s staff in Peña de Bernal. He was within the undertaking and needed to talk along with her, so Annick returned to interview him one-on-one.
At first, I used to be having issues creating this collection since I didn’t know find out how to visualize these experiences that the reader can’t see. I had a inventive block, so I needed to distance the undertaking from journalistic pictures. It was extra about suggestion and feeling.
Annick labored laborious to search out those that would recount their tales and commenced recording and transcribing interviews. Every interview included a portrait session in order that the person might be highlighted, whereas Annick discovered methods to create eerie and ethereal pictures that might converse to their extraterrestrial encounters.
Whereas she discovered a various array of topics to symbolize the variability of people that have shared on this distinctive prevalence, Annick found many parallels and overlapping experiences that floor these otherworldly experiences right here on earth.
Throughout the interviews I noticed that believers talked about the identical themes they usually join issues with a view to create their very own understanding of the universe. I discovered this fascinating and needed to create a map with these themes and join the tales visually. The design was achieved by Chinese language artist Vera Yijun Zhou.
Once I was digging into the conspiracy world, I typically needed to withdraw, as a result of it was overwhelming and you actually begin doubting every thing. I used all this info to create the map, which is how I observe the world of the believers, and their world is dominated by conspiracy.
Extra connections took place after Annick reached out to the director of MUFON (Mutual UFO Community), a corporation devoted to investigating UFO studies across the globe.
He helped my analysis in Mexico as a result of it was necessary to have contacts contained in the neighborhood. After two years of analysis and interviews, I went again to the UFO Congress in Phoenix and felt that individuals opened up extra this time round.
Annick returned to the UFO Congress in 2019 and photographed most of the audio system and even different attendees. Her time and dedication to this undertaking granted her entry to a neighborhood that always sees its tales exploited or humiliated, as a substitute of appreciated and revered.
Because the undertaking unfolded, Annick started to grasp that almost all people are searching for like-minded individuals, who wish to belong to a neighborhood. And when that neighborhood is grounded in perception, it might change into a spot of consolation, reflection, and understanding, as we attempt to make sense of our existence.
For a lot of, the UFO neighborhood is a type of new faith, an anchor in occasions the place the skin world is complicated and aggressive.
Annick’s guide was created in collaboration with Hydra — an unbiased images area in Mexico Metropolis — when she was chosen for “Incubadora de fotolibro,” a program the place she labored with totally different worldwide editors and specialists to create her personal photobook.
Ending a photobook in covid occasions was fairly a problem and the publication had been postponed, however my guide is lastly on pre-sale through the Hydra platform.
See extra of Annick’s work on her web site.
In regards to the Creator
Liz Wolf is a author with a specific ardour about communication, creativity, and collaboration. She is at the moment a Managing Editor and Content material Strategist at Great Machine. You possibly can join with Liz through LinkedIn and study extra about her on her web site. This text was initially printed on Great Machine and was shared with permission.