This Virtual Exhibit Redefines What it Means to Photograph Yourself

Published May 6, 2020

Paul Mpagi Sepuya Mirror Study, 2018.

If, in the 20th Century, the camera was pointed like a gun on the larger world, in this new century that weapon has increasingly turned on its user. Self-portraiture has become a life skill, cultivated the way penmanship was in previous eras. There are, of course, clear and present dangers in our current obsession in our image: narcissism, media manipulation, and loss of control in who owns our own likeness. Yet, self-portraiture can also be sites of liberation, celebration, and a wresting back of control over our skin. A new virtual group exhibition at James Fuentes Gallery, “The Artist and the Self” provides a riveting look at self-portraiture past and present, starting with founding self-mythologizers like Andy Warhol, Lee Friedlander, Hannah Wilke, and Lucas Samaras, and delving into provocations by contemporary artists like Lizzi Bougatsos (find her in the shower handle), Talia Chetrit, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya. The show runs through June 1. Try these self-help tricks at home.

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Steve Shore, Self Portrait, 1976.

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait in Fright Wig, 1986.