PORTRAITS OF IBIZA: Clarissa Sofia. Poet and Photographer of Fault Lines
Why self-acceptance is a rebellious act of love.
Just before Ibiza went into lockdown, Clarissa Sofia was excitedly preparing for her book launch. The launch of course never happened due to Covid19 restrictions on an island known for its unconquerable spirit. With both of us working from home, I did get to chat with Clari (as she is known to family and friends) and feel the sweet liberation of her book, which above all else whispers hope to those of us who ever felt they were not good enough.
Fault Lines is a beautifully raw and intimate collection of poetry and photography chronicling Clarissas’ own personal journey as a young woman whilst suffering from waves of anxiety and depression. An Island resident, we follow Clarissa through places and spaces as she explores and questions social constructs of femininity, the pain and ecstasy of relationships, family and ancestral bonds, anxiety and depression, sexual boundaries and harassment, music, death and the eventual rebirth of self.
I have had the privilege of working alongside Clarissa in her role as a photographer and observed how she gently stands back and creates space around her subjects. Her photos are kind and tell stories not all can see or hear. It comes as no surprise then that her collection is delicate yet simultaneously powerful. This is what happens when we pause and consider consciously both the world around us and internally within.
Her words will burrow deeply into your heart as they did mine whilst her photography makes you assess how you want to be seen, not just by others but also more radically by yourself.
Fault Lines – connecting the fragility of the earth with that of our humanity
Fault Lines a break or fracture that occurs when the Earth’s tectonic plates move or shift – an area where an earthquake is likely to occur.
“I see a comparison between the earths’ fault lines – which is where earth quakes are likely to occur to that of the perceived weaknesses within our body and mind. So my book is really looking beyond the surface to our vulnerabilities.”
Our bodies are mapped in fault lines.
Crack and crevices that deepen
under the weight of the moon.
But don’t mistake them for wounds,
they are the puzzle piece edges
that fit our curves into place,
the storybook pages
sellotaped across our flesh.
They carry water like creeks
quenching the thirst of our limbs,
marking our humanity
with every question that finds its answer
inside the warmth of our lived-in-skin
Our bodies are mapped in fault lines,
You hold mine in your hands.
Places and Spaces
Digging deep to seek alternative perspectives runs within her ancestral bloodlines; in the 1960s her maternal grandparents made Formentera their home. Her mother moved to Ibiza later and then when Clarissa was a young child they moved to Highgate, England adding diversity and richness to her life.
Colours and emotions
From her early teenage years, Clarissa would feel waves of anxiety and sadness. It wasn’t until she reached twenty that she was introduced to poetry. Finally able to articulate how she felt, the ink would flow and with it a feeling of release. Eventually the desire to move back to Ibiza was so strong and Clarissa too was so strong that Clarissa began the transition to full time Island life and a career as wedding photographer. Her poetry never left her and she documented the many stages of her young life. Her book is represented in three stages, symbolically using colours to illuminate emotions. Cyan is blue and conjures a feeling of sadness. In this chapter, the poetry deals with depression, which begins to lift as we flow into Scarlett. For Clarissa this colour stimulates feelings of passion, anger and love and we encounter relationships in this section; romantic and that of family. The final section Amber, is a sunshine shade of happiness and joy.
“This for me was the light at the end of the tunnel”
Like all authentic art that comes from the belly of the artist, at times Fault Lines is uncomfortable, it triggers memories and feelings that are painful, yet there is a light that undulates its way throughout the book reaching a crescendo on the final page.
Looking in the mirror – Photography as a form of vulnerability and acceptance.
Sitting harmoniously next to the poetry is the self-portraiture. It is brave and vulnerable and for me a resistance to shame around the female body. Clarissa describes this as the ultimate act in self-acceptance where feelings around the body are complex and can change dramatically moment to moment.
“Sometimes beauty looks back at me
with water colour painted symmetry,
other times disgust possesses me”
Shame and Vulnerability Research Professor, Brene Brown explained vulnerability as “…uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.”
Each time I read an extract or look at an image in Fault Lines, I either trip over another realisation or something moves me that I can’t explain.
“If I can help even one person to know that they aren’t alone in their feelings and its ok to not be perfect, then I will be happy.” Is the final message that Clarissa shares with me.
And so it is that in her vulnerability there is comfort and reassurance. Indeed as Brene Brown expanded, the rewards for those that dare greatly are vast.
“Vulnerability is the core of the heart, the centre of meaningful human experiences,” Brene Brown
Perhaps it is time for us all to dare greatly whilst going gently and seek out our individual fault lines with compassion and self-love.