Woman Crush: Daisy Korpics
Daisy Korpics is a New York based photography graduate from Parsons The New School for Design. Her series, Disquiet and 586, communicate her first-hand experiences of coping with anxiety in self portraits and text. Daisy's series, 568, was recently featured in The Parson's BFA Photography Show at Milk Gallery in New York.
By Margaret Warburton
What causes you anxiety? What brings you comfort?
I’ve been trying to answer that first question since I started having panic attacks. I was twelve when they started, and the scariest thing about them is that they seemingly came out of nowhere. I can be sitting on my couch at home watching TV, and suddenly I’m panicking, completely out of control. There are different types of comfort when you have panic attacks and anxiety disorders. One type is the coping mechanisms that you use in the moment like pacing or playing games to distract your brain. I also find comfort in my medication. Not necessarily taking it, but knowing it’s there if I can’t make it through on my own. Others are comforts that I think most people have. I talk to my boyfriend or my parents, I make photographs, I watch a good movie. It depends on the severity of the situation.
Can you explain how your series Disquiet, impacts you as a photographer and a person with anxiety?
I like to make photographs when I’m panicking because it makes me concentrate on something else. I tend to get very engrossed in the process of photography, so when I have a bad panic attack I can regain some sense of control through shooting. I minored in psychology and I was very interested in “unconscious flow”, which is when artists become so focused on the process of making work that it almost becomes an unconscious act. This consumption of focus on the photograph helps take away the focus on the panic.
In making yourself vulnerable to your viewers in Disquiet, what message do you want them to receive from your photographs?
I want people to be able to identify with the images. When I was young I didn’t understand what was happening to me and felt a strong need to keep my panic attacks a secret. I hated going to social events because I thought that if I panicked, my friends would think I was crazy or not accept me. Now that I’m older and understand that mental illness is not a weakness, I hope that people who have the same issues can see me being open about it and know that they can do the same. The stigma of mental illness is extremely damaging, especially to young people who experience social pressure so intensely. I think of it as my responsibility as someone living with mental illness to be transparent, because it might help someone else in some way.
You feature some text in Disquiet, how do words play a role in the documentation of your anxiety?
I’m one of those people that write down every single thing that pops into their heads, so when I panic or am having a particularly anxious moment I like to write stream-of-consciousness style. I have a lot of mantras that I say when I panic, but the one that I find the most comfort in is you’re not going to die tonight because it reminds me that I’m going to get through it and it’s in my head, so it can’t hurt me. I used to say you’re not going to die but every time I said it I would think but you will one day so I added “tonight” to make it more realistic. I write it on my typewriter sometimes because the physical act of typing on a typewriter is somewhat labor intensive, and you have to pay attention to make sure you hit the right keys since there’s no backspace, so it gives me something else to focus on.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a project called 568 that started as my thesis project at Parsons. It also focuses on anxiety but is more object and text based, which is a different approach to my work. I recently showed the bulk of the project at Milk in New York, which was an installation based piece recreating my workspace alongside the images.
Describe your creative process in one word.
If you could teach a one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
Probably panic attack coping mechanisms, since I know so many. Most people have at least one in their life and don’t know how to handle it, so they think they’re having a heart attack. It’s good information to have, if not for yourself than to help someone else someday. Especially breathing exercises.
What is the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
I’m reading a great book of short stories right now called A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin. The imagery is stunning and makes me want to shoot.
What song do you play the most in your music library?
I’ve been listening to SZA’s album Ctrl on repeat since it came out. Her voice is incredible.
How do you take your coffee?
Hot with skim milk and a spoon of sugar.