About Jo

A photographer with a rare chronic endocrine disorder (Addison’s Disease). Born in Coventry and now based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, Jo was shortlisted for the Picfair Women Behind the Lens award in 2018. Jo is interested in the psychology and emotions behind self-portraiture and what is actually feels like to be human in an ever increasingly online world. The pressures placed on us online are exhausting and those with health issues have no energy to deal with this. So, like Jo, they have to learn to love themselves even if they do not conform to the expectations of others. This project forms the final major project submitted as part of her MA in Photography at Falmouth University. Jo was awarded a Distinction for her MA. She also holds the accreditation of Associate of the Royal Photographic Society (www.rps.org). In September 2019, Sutherst will start her PhD with Exeter University, which will see her research into the impact of algorithms on our sense of identity.

Fractured Identities

The endless electronic messages and stimulus we receive from social media and other visual sources cause us to analyse and judge ourselves extensively through the eyes of others. The self is eroded and broken down. As a result, we find ourselves changing who we appear to be to meet the expectations of others. In Fractured Identities, photographer Jo Sutherst uses performance and self-portraiture to explore the ways in which social media affects the ways in which we present ourselves. Using a series of often comical props and cosmetics designed to enhance appearance, Sutherst explores the world of the media generated selfie.

Each of us has control over our online representation. We have complete and absolute control over our devices. We can post, text, tweet and update whatever we want. Our devices allow us to show the world who we want to be seen as. Yet we are detached and isolated from the viewer. We do not exchange conversation other than through text. We can edit every selfie so that we get it just as we want it. We fine tune, write and rewrite every caption so that it delivers the correct message. We can post whatever we want, without thinking twice. We often come across as completely different people in our online and offline relationships. 

We cannot gauge another's response to the image or caption. We do not receive face to face feedback, and we lack the self-perception that comes with a real-life relationship. Behind the screens of our computers and phones, we can portray ourselves exactly the way we want. We cannot always do this in real life. 

Through our ever-increasing use of technology, we are invited to rewrite our identities. How can we know if what we are looking at is true - or not? How do we feel if we are not able to conform? Does this change who we are or could be?

About Addison's Disease

Addison's disease – also known as primary adrenal insufficiency or hypoadrenalism – is a rare disorder of the adrenal glands. Symptoms include dizziness, fainting, muscle weakness, fatigue, and exhaustion. (Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/addisons-disease/)

Using Format