The Self Portrait

This weeks lecture on the self portrait looked at the self portrait in three ways, as a message, a document and a relationship. Looking at it as a message you could view the photograph as an autobiography of the artist, as art is an extension of the self. The final product that is produced is a result of the artists opinion.

“As satisfying as it is to discover what Sarah Bernhardt looked like, or Charles Darwin or Coco Chanel, the conundrum we are left to ponder about the nature of portraiture is whether the portrait is one of the subject, or in fact a portrait of the photographer.”

Phillip Gefter

The self portrait naturally is a document, but the question is what is the photograph a document of? It could be a document of an emotion, a way of life or something universal that the viewer can relate to, rather than of the self, which can be perceived as narcissism.

An image involves three people (the viewer, the subject and the photographer), so when looking at the relationship of a self portrait is there only 2 people people involved, seeing as the subject and photographer have merged into one person? That is up to the artist and how they see it, they need to play the part of the subject and the part of the photographer and collaborate to produce the document.

When I was given the task to create a self portrait I focussed on looking at it as a message and a relationship. I found it odd to play both the part of the subject and the photographer and I found myself asking the same question to to myself as a subject and the photographer, what do I want to show? So I was within the mind frame of there still being three people involved in the photograph as I was considering the message and the final product in two separate mind frames.

I struggled to sum up a part of me in one photograph, the portrait is only a representation of my physical appearance so I thought about ways in which I could show how I learn about myself. I do this by seeing myself through other people, whether that be from my interactions with them or by the way I resonate with a particular characteristic I share with them. So rather than attempting to create an image that I think represents something about me, I’ve chosen to show myself through someone else’s perspective.

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