Not Not Known is a body of self-portraits. All shot in my daylight studio on black and white medium format film. Self-portraiture is many things to many artists, but for me it is a way to confront myself. When I step in front of the camera I divide: half of me the subject, half the photographer. I can’t hide from this other self, my alter ego: the camera.
The images themselves are simple and direct. They are a documentation of a woman in a space, as objects change and shift around her. At the center of them is a changing body: shortening hair, lengthening hair, tired eyes, sad eyes, lustful eyes, breasts shrinking, bones exposing. The shape of her collarbone is revealed again, wedding rings are on, and then gone, vanished.
In making these works I have also been researching the history of female self-portraiture. In Seeing Ourselves, by Frances Borzello she notes of 15th century paintings of women, “…hands do not wave, bodies do not twist, mouths do not smile, elbows rarely stray far from the body.” Borzello goes onto to illustrate examples of women beginning to paint and depict themselves in more active ways. In this sense, to move within the frame is an act of defiance, and an acknowledgement of self. Borzello later states, “The artist who turns to acknowledge the viewer is comfortable with herself and her profession.” Though she was speaking of the painter at her easel, I find the same sentiment rings true of photography—the direct gaze in these images isn’t accusatory, but a simple fact: I am here, I see myself, see me.
And to be so seen is what I’m trying to do when I stand in front of the lens. Peel back the layers, one by one, until maybe I’ll know myself, and have the proof as well.