From the age of 14 – 17, the Toronto-based photographer Janieta Eyre developed a disorder that made it impossible to speak. As a consequence, many people gave up attempting to converse with Eyre and instead behaved as if she did not exist. The imposed silence and isolation had a curious effect on the artist’s development: in her silence, she began to have strange thoughts and to wonder if she was, in fact, invisible.
When the noises of others stopped requiring acknowledgement and became distant and indecipherable, Eyre’s mind filled with wordless images. The artist was reminded of these images when she stumbled on an old black-and-white photograph of a person dressed half as a man and half as a woman, their clothes, makeup, and hair carefully and beautifully divided. Beginning from these references, the images in this series investigate identity as a profoundly relational and interchangeable process, which Eyre likens to a set of clothes. The Mute Book explores the feelings of distance, isolation, invisibility, and stillness that accompany living a shadow life.