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Jessica Mauboy

'Chaos and stillness'

Jessica Mauboy
Video: 6 minutes 36 seconds

Australian singer, songwriter and actress, Jessica Mauboy talks about her life and career and the development of her portrait with artist David Rosetzky.

This video was produced with funds donated by Tim Fairfax AC.

- [Jessica] My, kind of, way of living is not trying to live in regrets. I think everything you do takes you a step further to being the best you can. You make a mistake, you gave it go, and you must try it again. And there's always gonna be a way out. It's just being patient with it, it's all. Learning the patience. I'm always learning, I think. I'm always kinda finding people that are inspiring me everyday, and I always felt it was just healing. Music is a healing process for me, and I'm sure it kind of really takes people through their story, at times, when they're by themselves, or when they're with a group of people, or crowd. You feel this, kind of, permission to just be you. I think that's why I'm so close with music. That's why I'm, I have so much faith in it, and I put everything into it. You know, in the 15 years that I've been working, my way of presenting music, or performing, or singing, so, you know, I have so much respect for it, and you know, and we'll never lose that because it's always given me something back.

- [David] Jess had this incredible energy, which really seems to come across and she also seemed to be a very, sort of, authentic person. And that sense of vitality, and sort of optimism as well, is something that I really wanted to get across in the portrait. And we talked about art, and music, and how you sort of represent that, in a sort of, visual medium, so it was sort of collaborative, very much in terms of those initial conversations. The photographic shoot was quite a simple set up really. Just had a sort of, large black backdrop and the photographs were black and white, and they're just taken on this old 35 millimetre camera of mine, so it was all very low-tech and quite simple lighting, so it really makes it a much more, sort of, human interaction I think, in terms of the relationship between the photographer and the sitter. There's not a lot of, sort of, technology or other, sort of, imagery in the way. The technique that I was using was the double exposure, where you run the same film through the camera twice, so you effectively take two images and one overlaps on top of the other. There's not a great degree of control that you have as to which image, sort of, overlays with what, and how the two images combine, and I kind of really enjoy that sort of element of chance and the sort of unexpected sort of nature of that process. In the past, when I've done portraits in this, using this method, I've probably taken maybe four or five rolls, but because this was, you know, the stakes are a little bit higher, I took about 14 rolls. So, yeah.

- [Jessica] I had, really hard working parents who just wanted their children to, you know, succeed in life and do what they love and have a good life, but also a giving one, so that those values and those traditions in culture could be carried on. So, I think all of those kind of really come into play when I make that a part of my job. There's nothing like being a part of your community, and possibly making a difference, just by being yourself and making a pathway for the next generation or for people to come who wanna leave their mark and tell their stories. It's pretty, yeah, it's pretty cool.

- [David] I really wanted to present this multifaceted perspective of Jessica. We talked about this idea of chaos and stillness and how she manages to stay quite, sort of, centred within herself despite the sort of crazy lifestyle and I think she was about to head off to Eurovision, so with one of the layers of the images, she'd be quite still and looking directly at the camera and then with one of the other layers, she was sort of doing more movement.

- [Jessica] The portrait process has been different, I guess, working with David on, just having a bit of a play, having a bit of movement, really creating those layers of personality, and that's what we're channelling in the studio, is being strong, being loving to yourself and kind, but also being wild. I think, there's nothing like just being yourself and finding those little things that either make you tick or challenge you or make you feel so alive, is what we're creating in this portrait.

- [David] I hope the portrait will convey Jessica in a way that, there's this really strong sense of inner confidence and strength and directness, that the viewer can connect with, but at the same time I wanted to have some other more, sort of, mysterious or intangible quality to the portrait, which represents something a little bit more emotional, which relates not to her singing, you know, which does I think connect with you in a slightly more sort of intangible and almost a physical way, it sort of cuts through, so I'm hoping that those two sort of, aspects will be present.

- [Jessica] Yeah, I, wow, there are so many things, you could go for days. But I think, honestly, to really take pride in themselves, I really hope this photo projects their inner spirit, their inner souls, their courage. I want it to almost be like a mirror image of them, in the sense that they can do whatever they put their mind to. You know, I think it is about being brave and trying to find whatever that confidence within you, that's so, deep down there, be kind to it, and it'll come up every time you do it and you try. Thank you. That's crazy, how crazy is that? It's super awesome. Wow!