Persons: 'Self' Portraits – The Abiguity of Identity
The question “Who Am I ?” is not one we can answer entirely on our own. The perceptions of others mix with our own belief in who we are to create our persona. The roles we must assume in order to relate to different people rearrange significant aspects of ourselves, at least during key moments and perhaps for ever. Identity shifts from moment to moment.
The sense of self is always more than our a physical presence. Even boundaries of resemblance are not exempt. Identity is always surrounded by ambiguity. Despite this, integrity demands a static identity. It is no wonder that we find questions of identity at the very heart of all of the most intransigent political, educational and spiritual debates.
In this exhibition are ten portrait heads. These‘self’-portraits are self to the extent that some trace of me put the process into motion. Ten drawing sequences started with someone’s drawing of my head. I take this portrait drawing as a “seed” drawing and give it to a volunteer to look at for three minutes. After the drawing is taken away that person draws the shape as accurately as possible from memory. The resulting memory drawing serves as the ‘seed’ for the next participant who repeats the process. As the sequence continues, each step is filtered through yet another person’s memory. Step by step something new happens. New shapes come into existence inadvertently. No single individual could have foreseen or invented these forms. The structure enables an opening into these forms.
The initial portrait drawing invents an image based on my head, transforming it into two dimensions. My head is not exactly an image. The papier maché objects bring that image back into three dimensions and at this point my head is an image.
I believe that one of the roles of these objects is to condition a momentary pause in the midst of an otherwise continuous flow. For me they function something like a form of punctuation but perhaps more importantly, they create a moment of access.