Being original is almost impossible...
Thy Selfie employs the structures, conventions, and formal qualities used in fashion spreads, social media, and advertising to offer an analysis of the ways images function in a culture that creates myriad attacks on female self-esteem. Tethered to a state of ambivalence, playing on a collective understanding of the world around us as exposed and defenseless, these self-portraits - extremely constructed yet paradoxically speaking of the need to let go - aim to make visible the iconography of incessant self-promotion: bold, colorful, and everpresent (due to the inherent relationship between photography and facile reproduction) but lacking a nuanced sense of purpose.
Aptly enough, the series speaks the language of appropriation referencing both neoclassical paintings and contemporary photography as a reflection on the tendency of contemporary art to devour visual references indiscriminately. John William Godward's The Fragrant Rose (1892) and Artur Hill's Oranges (1880) as well as Ana Mendieta's experimental series of photographs of her face speaking to the willingness of the artist to dictate the terms on which to be judged and Richard Avedon's portrayal of his subjects against a white background, with no extraneous details to distract from the essential specificity of the gaze are the cornerstones of this project.
The pristine, curated superimposed portraits (part one), the faces half-hidden behind nets and lace (part two), and the ones sitting pretty amidst lush leaves and plump lemons telling her stories with a barely perceptible whisper (part three), they all question the viewer about the need for endless selfies. What does a selfie say about our time decked out in pastel aesthetics as a symbol of aspirational well-being? Endless filters? Endless mood boards? Would any of it lead us to ask questions, and would the answers change us? Are we still recognizable to ourselves? Can we strike out on our own while maintaining our authenticity? What do we stand for?
- Visual Influences
Jenni Granholm - Her aesthetic, defined by deliberately soft pastel inks, ia unashamedly feminine. In self-portraits, she explores themes of restraints, entanglement and the desire for freedom.
Ana Mendieta - Known for leaving the imprint of her body in patches of land, a poetic form of self-portraiture, Mendieta also created several photographic self-portraits in which she distorts, disguises, and otherwise disfigures her face, purposely preventing viewers from seeing the artist as she truly is.
Richard Avedon Portraits - With uncompromising directness, Avedon portrayed his subjects against a white background, with no extraneous details to distract from the essential specificity of face, gaze, dress, and gesture.