This is the 5 minute version of “Wonderland: the art of becoming human” by Amanda Ravetz, a film about art, utopia and recovery from addiction, but also about my method The Self-Portrait Experience®, shot during my complete self-portrait workshop held at the Manchester Metropolitan University with a group of “recoverists” or people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, in collaboration with Portraits of Recovery, In2Recovery, Greater Manchester Recovery Federation, UK Recovery Federation. The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, as part of the Connected Communities Festival 2016 in UK.

The workshop was held in two steps, one in March and the second in April, so that participants could do some homework between the two meetings, and we kept in touch through our private Facebook group. Ten “recoverists” participated and in the end six of them produced a small but beautiful autobiographic book. During the workshop we produced collaborative work in the studio: individual self-portraits on the expression of emotions, relational self-portraits and group self-portraits. We worked in group on the choice and in-depth perception of the works produced, the dialogue between images and the project build-up, and each participant worked individually with me on the construction of their final book project.

Being a research project, this experience was extremely interesting, because I was stimulated to question my methodology and to really think about it, in order to improve it. The issue of authorship in collaborative work, the vulnerability of the workshop leader and the very question of one-person leadership versus group leadership or mutual collaboration.

For example, when it comes to participants’ final projects, it’s been always difficult for me to work collaboratively, trusting their ideas and helping them to attain a good aesthetic shape. There was never enough time, and I ended up by proposing my own idea. I knew this was my inner dictator-artist, who thinks she knows how a project should be. I wanted this to change, I wanted to find a way to facilitate their creative process in the making of their project. This time, I surprised myself working together with them, listening to their ideas and really managing to build beautiful and powerful projects, with an aesthetic visual impact.

I will soon be publishing some of the images and the complete version of the film.