• Mirrored Beauty

    Date posted: July 1, 2009 Author: jolanta
    I have regularly appeared in my work from my earliest photographic projects. In regards to this recurring theme art critics have a tendency to hold a view diametrically opposed to mine. I think that my self-portraits shouldn’t be judged separately, but as part of my whole practice. I enjoy posing in front of the camera; I make no apologies for this: the camera’s ability to put order into chaos, to define the details of a made-up reality. Behind this rite of self-annihilation and rebirth, your everyday self is shattered into smithereens. Self-portraiture in art is a topic that brings out irreconcilable differences. Some support this idea of the artist as his/her own muse, a status that photography elevates to myth, the idea of someone ditching the restrictive conventions of society to transcend appearances. Ana Laura Aláez

    Ana Laura Aláez

    Ana Laura Aláez

    I have regularly appeared in my work from my earliest photographic projects. In regards to this recurring theme art critics have a tendency to hold a view diametrically opposed to mine. I think that my self-portraits shouldn’t be judged separately, but as part of my whole practice.

    I enjoy posing in front of the camera; I make no apologies for this: the camera’s ability to put order into chaos, to define the details of a made-up reality. Behind this rite of self-annihilation and rebirth, your everyday self is shattered into smithereens.

    Self-portraiture in art is a topic that brings out irreconcilable differences. Some support this idea of the artist as his/her own muse, a status that photography elevates to myth, the idea of someone ditching the restrictive conventions of society to transcend appearances. Others criticize it fiercely, considering it self-indulgent, egocentric, and banal. This is a subject I’d like to delve into from my perspective. For this purpose, I’ll use two of my photographs as an example, to illustrate some of the things that do matter to me, if not for their final appreciation and results, at least for the process itself.

    Scratched Artist and Scratched Model are like those pictures in magazines that we scribble on and scratch with a ballpoint pen, giving it a graphic quality. If we got rid of the models’ torsos, they’d look like images from the Constructivist era. They are also the sketches for the grand pictures that never were but should have been, the ones that rely on the seamless perfection of perfect bodies to justify their status as artworks. The most obvious reference here would to David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, with his impossible explosion of chameleonic, androgynous beauty. The pop industry, with its tendency to focus its discourse on the artist’s image, explores all my most-cherished aesthetic concerns. All the opinions expressed about the artist are nothing but shallow scratches on the surface. What’s the point of pondering on the difference between artist and model? The version of Scratched Artist, Scratched Model, where the model appears was chosen as the front cover for Spanish newspaper El Pais’ culture supplement in 2002. Society always chooses prescribed, safe beauty.

    From the beginning, I’ve used and recycled things such as building materials, items taken from my own wardrobe, or I included my own self, making its identity malleable, multiple in its external appearance. I’ve always complied with this compulsion for using whatever is available at hand. When I’m at a photo shoot, I use the vibrant identities of my subjects as live, malleable materials; I’m the happiest person in the world. It’s neither the materials nor the outcome, the finished product, but the vibe that led to its accomplishment, that inspires me. It’s almost religious—to prompt the initial impulse that makes you put two metal bits and perhaps the elastic material from a piece of lingerie, together. In Scratched Artist and Scratched Model I used the plastic cable ties used by electricians to create a sophisticated look, a sophisticated costume that started as a functional, mundane material.

    Artists never quite fit into conventional social logic. If the nature of their seduction stems from a personal language that does not relate to a pre-established logic, this same quality can eventually become their undoing. A certain imperfection, a clumsiness in communication, the natural vulnerability of the artist in front of the viewer, is the drive behind my self-portraits, because ideas are more important than the object itself. What public opinion rejects as a mistake, for the artist can be an inexhaustible source of ideas.

     

     

     

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