Coursework, Part 3 - Putting yourself in the picture, Project 1 - Autobiographical self-portraiture

Project 1 – Exercise – reflection on others work.


Reflect on the pieces of work discussed in this project in your learning log and do some further research of your own.

  • How do these images make you feel?

Click here to view my Pinterest Board I created for the artists we have been asked to look at for this exercise. They are: Francesca Woodman, Elina Brotherus and Gillian Wearing.

My first feeling while looking at these images is scared! Especially Wearing as she constructs and wears masks of her immediate family. I also felt sadness from their images. Woodman portrays a story that makes me think she has been through a lot and lucky to still be here. Brotherus images shows me a sense of loneliness.

Although all three artists are by themselves in the images, Brotherus seems to be doing everyday things such as showering and sitting at the table, but with a lost look in her eyes. In her series ‘Annonciation’ I believe this is due to her being childless and her infertility problems.

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

Before starting this degree, I thought self-portraiture was vain, only for pretty people etc! However, many photographers, like those above, use it to tell a story, to show awareness for something they may have been through using a self-investigative tool. They do so in a tasteful way, a way in which I hadn’t seen before this degree.

I think a lot of people think of ‘selfies’ when they hear self-portrait. This culture has possibly changed people’s views to an attention-seeking activity. I therefore think it is difficult for people to think self-portrait is not a way of self-indulgence.

  • What’s the significance of Brotherus’ nakedness?

I think Brotherus use of nakedness in her images shows her vulnerability. In particular her series ‘Annonciation’ where she shows her struggles and upset due to her infertility problems.

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

I think accompanying text can help the viewer to interpret the images in the way in which the photographer intended. However, I think without them, they are still able to provoke a strong feeling. The viewer will still feel sadness, be shocked, feel happy by viewing such images.

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

I think Elina Brotherus addresses the wider issue of infertility and infertility treatment. I think she wanted others to identify with her, those who are going through similar.

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