Exercise- Autobiographical self portraiture 1

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?
Do you think there’s an element of narcissism or self-indulgence in focusing on your own identity in this way?
What’s the significance of Brotherus’s nakedness?
Can such images ‘work’ for an outsider without accompanying text?
Do you think any of these artists are also addressing wider issues beyond the purely personal?

Make some notes in your learning log.

How do these images make you feel?

All of the images are thought provoking and all take a different level of decoding. They all demonstrate the power of the artist as the subject o the work but they do this in different ways. I still find Woodman’s work the darkest but that is perhaps because I see them in the context of her troubled life and ultimate suicide. I am perhaps looking for allusions to this in the work. All her simultaneously confident and even exhibitionist, but also disturbing. They are  the most dynamic of all the works. the slow shutter images give a sense of motion and things changing. 

The work of Brotherus seems far more staged and planned, although that is a perception on my part rather than an objective fact. There is a clear  sense of planning and an ongoing theme running through the work that tells of reflection through self. To me there is a more evident thought process behind the images I reviewed and there is also a sense of an ongoing engagement with her self as the subject in order to explore the world.

Wearings work is disturbing to but in a different and actually quite a positive way. the idea of literally getting inside your family is a genuinely innovative one that set me thinking about my relationships with family. As stated, all very positively thought provoking. It did make me think about ways i might include myself in images that say something about my family and my place in it!

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

I really pondered on the idea of narcissism t when  I first looked at the work, but quickly came to the conclusion the were not. Nor was any of the work self indulgent. Experimental, self focused and very personally confident yes, but not self centred in anyway. To me narcissism is rooted in some sense of self love and that is not what these works are about. In these works the self and the self portrait are vehicles to explore, thought and feelings, the family, the self and the world around the artist. I also ned to say although perhaps a bit overs simplistic, these works are well beyond the notion of the selfie which is so much part of contemporary culture.

What’s the significance of Brotherus’s nakedness?

I asked my self would the images work with the artist clothed and my genuine answer is that i don’t know. Her nakedness points at a vulnerability but also an honesty, literally bearing all. The theme of motherhood, IVF and the sadness of not being able to conceive a child are all supported by her nakedness and the works are not sexual in nature. The nakedness I guess confronts the subject and makes a statement to view. That said I still ponder on whether other images could create the same narrative?

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

I have really pondered on this too, particularly in relation  to Brotherus’s work. I have come to the conclusion that some text is required to make sense of the work and to be able to gain insight into the artist motivation. Whilst and outsider will bring some of their own interpretation, an artist’s statement of intent at some level is needed to really reveal what is at the heart of the work. There is a question about how much text is required and I have grappled with this dime in my own work. 

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

There is a resounding yes to this question for all of the artists. Woodman’s explores the possibilities of identities, of expression through self and ideas about emotion and even mental health. I suspect also she was creating work to communicate rather than to look inward. Brotherus is engaging with a range of contempaosry them about being a women anbaout displacement in place and about motherhood and IVF. All resonate with wider thoughts about the human  condition. She is wanting to make wider connections and her work asks questions about how we see ourselves and how we are seen. Similar is true of Wearing, her work seems to try and reveal something quite personal that asks questions about our place in our families, of inheritance and most of all who we are and where we come from. All of this work offer the possibility of understanding the  world around us in different and quite innovative ways.

 

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