It was recommended that I investigate the work of Janine Antoni, an artist who works photographically as well as with performative sculpture. One of her pieces in particular, "Lick and Lather," was discussed as an example of how to use process and gesture as a method to create a self-portrait.
She speaks about process extensively, but I was especially interested in her idea of "unmaking in order to make," and the kind of relationship she develops with her "self" in chocolate and in soap form - the idea that with the chocolate, she is feeding herself with herself, and with the soap she is washing her self with herself in a kind of circular narrative. She spoke about how she felt closer to the soap, because she had spent a lot of time in the tub with it, rubbing it down until the washing away of the features made the bust become almost fetal in nature. She related this idea of cleansing to purity -and how in her purity the soap bust disappears. Her relationship to the chocolate bust was entirely different - she mentioned how peculiar it feels to lick oneself - the desire and sexuality implicit in her consumption of herself. I like how she defined a conceptual structure in order to inform how she interpreted the idea of a self portrait. I want to borrow her method of beginning with a representation of herself and using removal in order to create something new.
I also gathered a couple of her photographs
In thinking about intimacy as a theme in my work, I am curious to see what happens when intimacy is boiled down to its basic elements - does it become sexual, sensual, uncomfortable, loving?
This is such a strange gesture between mother and child, and in thinking about what she said about her chocolate bust - that she was feeding herself with herself - it is interesting that this specific gesture can carry over thematically from sculpture to photography.
The dark humor of both of these photographs is also striking. It raises the question of how we use humor to deal with interactions that make us uncomfortable.