Thoughts on “the self”


Her Landscapes, 2014 / copyright: oini

“I wanted to work with the tradition of self-portraiture but also with the classical bust…I had the idea that I would make a replica of myself in chocolate and in soap, and I would feed myself with my self, and wash myself with my self. Both the licking and the bathing are quite gentle and loving acts, but what’s interesting is that I’m slowly erasing myself through the process. So for me it’s about that conflict, that love/hate relationship we have with our physical appearance, and the problem I have with looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘Is that who I am?” Janine Antoni, ART21

In the interview with ART21 magazine Janine Antoni talks about her project Lick and Lather (1993). The concept of the self in art has always been intriguing to me and apart from the visual outcome of such projects the emotional side of the process interests me a lot. To me it’s frustrating. It’s hard. It involves a strong connection between one’s life and the work, therefore it can be very vulnerable.

It feels mysterious and unnatural. Like gazing into a black hole and being faced with nothingness or a fear of death. I look at an image of me, created by me, and I can’t relate to it. Do we ever wake up to the real us? “I am not who I was and I am not who I am becoming” is an anonymous quote I came across many years ago and it stuck to me. When I was working on a series of collages Her Landscapes (2014) I thought I can take a photograph of myself. Throughout the process I realized that it’s more that I am using my body in order to explore a world rather than representing myself. I am taking apart my body and constructing a scene with it. I don’t predict every move, I am just interested in how my body can fragment and what sort of expression it can sculpt itself into. But sculpting and destroying as well as raising up and dying is part of becoming and not being. It is somehow a bit a like being at war with myself – yes, I love you, you are the only one I have so you need to work well but now I will cut you, tear you apart and let’s see what’s inside… And what’s inside is maybe visible in the image and maybe not. But that is not the point, it’s not even important. To me what is important is the self – surgery, repeated over and over again to the point of a universal meaning, when the body could be me but it also could be anyone… a tree, a thought or a form.





  • Navid Firoozeh

    This is awsome.

    • Lenka

      Thanks Navid! I’m glad you liked it. Lenka

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