Johnny Hourigan: Everybody Says it's all in Your Head

I met Johnny when I took a job at a youth club in South London. I was his film tutor. He is now a young man aged 17 on the verge of adulthood facing the knowledge his autism will always make him different from other people.

For me, I found his way of communication very truthful. When he used the camera it became a tool for him to relate to the world around him, that some how through the lens the world became a bit more constructed and less intimidating.

Johnny's view is important to gain a greater understanding of what it is to have a disability such as autism. In my previous work I have explored ideas around representation and objectification by using my body as a malleable surface, but with Johnny’s self-portraiture it goes beyond representation.

Eschewing from the traditional approach in documenting the Other, I attempted to construct a complete inclusive and collaborative process in which the subject is included in all aspects of production and have full control on the filming, but also editing process. From the outset, Johnny has been involved in all the stages that make such a production come together from choosing a camera to designing the conditions of the film display in an exhibition context.

We have created a film that shifts the power within the processes of film making, placing the camera in the hands of the subject and creating a gaze that looks back at the audience. Creating 'Fourth Look' that as Paul Willemen argues ‘marks itself in the light from the projection reflected back on to the faces of the audience and constitutes the viewer as visible subject'

To gain access to the confronting gaze of the film allows the audience a greater understand of how we view and treat the different or the ‘other’, and to acknowledge themselves as an active participant in this filmic process.

The project has received Deutsche Bank award for creative enterprises which made possible its production.

© Clare Bottomley