I’ve recently started taking self-portraits as a method of self-care. It’s a way to keep hold of my corporeality – although that sounds very dramatic, it’s an important thing to do for a person who spends most of their time living in their own head. A lot has been written about selfie culture: see the tag Selfie Culture on HuffPo, and (particularly) Laura Bates's (of Everyday Sexism) Guardian article about selfie-taking as (teenage) feminism and image reclamation. I don’t agree that selfies and self-portraits are different things – they are both about holding onto one’s own image and cementing it in a place and time. Sometimes that place and time is frivolous, sometimes it’s serious. Both are okay and both should be encouraged.
For me, the idea of placing myself down, looking in at myself from the outside, seeing one or many of my selves together, is a form of self-knowledge. From Delphic Maxim to Self Help tool in one easy step. Though, I admit, I find it uncomfortable to see my own eyes, grey and hard, staring directly into my face. It forces me to confront myself - but in that confrontation to also understand.
I didn’t think this had anything to do with my research until recently. In my work I try and find people. Real, individual people. And in taking self-portraits I am really doing the same thing. Except the ‘real people’ is me, it’s just that the discovery is ‘self-discovery’.