A self-incarnation of the superego

I wrote already a few lines about self-portraits at the History of the Portrait where I briefly explained the different approaches that art-photographers have. You can have some wonderful self-portraits by Robert Mapplethorpe or Garcia-Alix as their own, showing who they are in real, mostly face front playing with expressions or imposing their own self. This kind of self-portraits seems more an affirmation of personality, and in any way of their egos.

Self Portrait 1980 by Robert Mapplethorpe

Self Portrait 1980 by Robert Mapplethorpe

Alberto Garcia-Alix

Alberto Garcia-Alix

Talking about great masters and their egos, Andy Warhol also did several self-portraits, mostly as a gender provocateur, like I mentioned in the “Straight Thoughts on Nudes and Ostriches“. Or even Gilbert & George whose work is based in self-portraits.

I’ll run away from the egos, and the new generation who does self-portraits to raise it up. Cute and fit girls and guys who seem to be great in photoshop more then in photography and somehow they always look divine, levitating or coming out from the lake with open books flying over. And ladders to the clouds. Usually those photos come with subliminal titles begging for a praise to raise their egos. Some of them end up studying psychology to understand their own self. Those I also briefly mentioned at the article about creativity.

I’m talking about self-incarnations and super egos. Well, I’m not talking about Freud and how he still influences some brilliant minds. I’m talking about self-portraits with a concept. Self-portraits done to express the artist’s worries, thoughts, moods… in which the artist transform himself in other person or personae, as an actor, more then a model. Natasha Christia wrote few years ago the article “The Awakening of the Self” for EYEMAZING where she explains it wisely.

Self Daisy, by ©GBénard

Self Daisy, by ©GBénard

The Weeper #1, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

The Weeper #1, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

The Prophet, by ©GBénard

The Prophet, by ©GBénard

When I start doing self-portraits several years ago, I was told by professional photographers, whom I admired, that self-portraiture is probably the most difficult task to achieve as photographer. Somehow I never understood this as I find it easier to use myself to express what I really want to be captured. As artist or creator I know better then any other person what I really want as rapture, so as model will be easier for me to express it. There is no middleman in this process. I am the one directing myself so there’s no lost in translation. And this is great, apart from the fact that we’re always available to model for ourselves.

As any other creative process the artist works better in his own solitude, in his own silence, so we can listen to our super ego, the subconscious world without the noise and filters of the conscious world. We can play with ourselves. We have the playground always ready no matter what. And the toys, like a camera.

We play at our own stage for ourselves as audience. And sometimes it happens that we record it in photography.

So we express. We tell stories. We create dialogues with the worries we have. With our inner thoughts or fears.

Working on self-portraits with concepts, more or less ethnographic, politic or sociologic, we have wonderful creators expressing using their own face. Doing this, we’re focused on the self-incarnation, or in the super ego, and we forget the world around responsible for the ego. We don’t care if we look ugly or messy. We play beyond the superficiality of the universal ego awareness. It is more important to communicate and express than just looking good… as we know that the good only depends on the wisdom of one.

by Helena Almeida

by Helena Almeida

by Jorge Molder

by Jorge Molder

Jorge Molder, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin and Helena Almeida are an example, but bringing some youth to refresh the self-incarnation, super ego and awareness, we can talk about the wonderful work by Zhang Huan, Kimiko Yoshida, Levi van Veluw or Oleg Doug.

by Zhang Huan

by Zhang Huan

by Zhang Huan

by Zhang Huan

The Cowrie Bride, Yoruba, by Kimiko Yoshida

The Cowrie Bride, Yoruba, by Kimiko Yoshida

The Kenyan Bride with an Antic Mpooro Engorio, by Kimiko Yoshida

The Kenyan Bride with an Antic Mpooro Engorio, by Kimiko Yoshida

by Levi van Veluw

by Levi van Veluw

by Levi van Veluw

by Levi van Veluw

by Oleg Dou

by Oleg Dou

by Oleg Dou

by Oleg Dou

Artists using themselves as models in a wise way to pass a message: self-incarnating the super-ego with awareness and knowledge.
Artists showing that the subject is more important than the object.

by Cindy Sherman

by Cindy Sherman

text by ©Gonzalo Bénard for 2HeadS
Feb, 2013

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