Monday, April 7, 2014

A Week of Self-Indulgence. No, make that "Art."

Self-Portrait in Ring Light, 2014

(Click on images to see larger)

Where is the line between art and narcissism? Or should it be between narcissism and art?

Most photographers make photographs of things or of people. But some have made names for themselves by instead making photographs of themselves. Just recently The New Yorker magazine did aninteresting feature on photographers’ self-portraits.

I can’t think of anyone who’s taken self-portraiture to such  heights as Cindy Sherman, who dresses and changes her appearance to masquerade as different personas. Sherman’s work is widely admired and collected as high art, while most other self-portraits are not.

To be honest, it’s taken me a while to come around to seeing Sherman’s work as anything more than novelty, albeit extremely well done novelty. But then again I didn’t attend art school and frequently find myself giggling at a lot of the MFA-speak used in high photographic art and criticism circles. 

But having made fun of that, let me show just how shallow and inconsistent I can be by sharing some of my own self-portraits. My contributions to this oeuvre are not exactly “selfies,” though they are in many cases impromptu. But neither are they high art in the “Let’s reach into the makeup drawer and dress-up box” context of Cindy Sherman.

Mine are experiments. They’re technical exercises, rather than conceptual explorations of self. Some are about place and others are about lighting. In New York recently I found myself taking a lot of pictures of myself in reflection of other people’s art. That’s about as high concept as it gets with me right now. 

I’m presenting these in the interest of displaying my experimentation. If you’re inclined to see these images as self-indulgence or, more seriously, the onset of a serious narcissism, you’ll just have to bear with it. The practical fact is that on most days I’m the only model I have. So you’re going to see a lot of me.


Self-Portrait in Mark Rothko, 2014


Self-Portrait in Donald Judd, 2014


Self-Portrait @ Christie’s, 2014


Self-Portrait @ ICP, 2014