Project 1 Autobiographical Self-Portraiture Exercise 1

Brief: Reflect on the pieces of work discussed in this project in your learning log and do some further research of your own.

Here are a few questions you might ask yourself:

  • How do these images make you feel?

Click here to view my Pinterest board for the three artists we were asked to look at for this exercise.

The images make me feel very inspired, slightly freaked out (Wearing in particular), a little sad but mainly I enjoyed viewing the images especially the clever use of props with the self-portraiture.

  • Do you think there’s an element of narcissism or self-indulgence in focusing on your own identity in this way?

Mainly I think that self-portraiture is quite a vain venture, although I can understand how it is a useful self-investigative tool. These three photographers use self-portraiture in a more tasteful way than I am used to seeing. With the recent ‘selfie-culture’ it is hard not to think of self-portraiture as attention seeking and often quiet boring. There is nothing wrong with having the confidence to exhibit your body publicly but I think it is difficult to produce work that doesn’t look to self-indulgent. Although I think in a lot of cases, especially when the subject of the self-portrait is naked, the image is bound to have an erotic element even if not intended.

  • What’s the significance of Brotherus’s nakedness?

The significance of Brotherus’s nakedness seems to be to portray her vulnerability, especially in the set Annunciation where she struggles with infertility problems and the stigma attached to involuntary childlessness.

  • Can such images ‘work’ for an outsider without accompanying text?

I think that this depends on what the artist intended. I think that the images wouldn’t be interpreted in the same way as if they were captioned but they could still shock, intrigue or mystify a viewer – they would definitely evoke or at the very least confuse. There is no way that you can ignore them.

  • Do you think any of these artists are also addressing wider issues beyond the purely personal?

I think that Brotherus was addressing the wider issue of infertility and fertility treatment participants and the stigma attached to a woman who is unable to produce children at all or without treatment. It seems to me as though she wanted others to be able to identify with her and in the extract that is in the study materials Brotherus states that she was unable to talk about her failure to fall pregnant but she was able to show her experience through pictures – it was her way of putting her experience out there and to make it available to others, maybe to help reduce stigma, to help others like herself and also simply to help herself to heal.