This Is What It Is to Be Happy

By Danni Turner

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Book Description

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy.” - Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar.

This Is What It Is to Be Happy is a visual love letter to Mother Nature. Through a familial muse, Turner constructs a photographic series that vicariously reflects her feelings towards Mother Nature, and her offering of escapism. The haptic imagery in this series plays with light and colour to create a sense of immersion, to bring warmth and reassurance to its audience. Shot entirely on analogue film, This Is What It Is to Be Happy pays homage to the retro-culture associated with Turner’s generation. This is also an aesthetic choice, one that highlights Turner’s ethos of ‘feeling over formal’ photography, unrestricted by pressures of ‘professionalism’ in favour of depicting genuine moments of mistake-making, fun.

Typical of previous works, This Is What It Is to Be Happy is overtly feminine in its aura and subject of Mother Nature. An advocate for the much-touted female-gaze, Turner has created a project that is soft, highly aesthetic and reclaims the female form for a female audience. Drawing inspiration from independent films, and the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope - “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors” (Rabin), Turner takes ownership of ‘girly’ by creating a project that is unabashedly ‘beautiful’ for art’s sake.