Photos and Text © Gian Cruz, Music © Hasan Hujairi, © 2013 Gian Cruz Studio All Rights Reserved.
About the series:
J’ai fait des gestes blancs parmi les solitudes.
Already it’s a great deal to see anything clearly,
for we don’t see anything clearly.
- Jasper Johns.
The performative self-portrait plays up on the potential of the camera to capture “who we pretend to be,” “who we are conditioned to be,” or “who we think we are.”1 And in line with this, there is something that Richard Avedon said about performance (which I draw from memory) that conveniently falls into place wherein we all perform… whether consciously or unconsciously… for ourselves, for others.2 Meanwhile, there is also this reality of a person’s identity to be very fluid from one perceiver to the next. There is a stronghold concerning my identity that is channelled through how others look at me and the perception of this so-called identity of mine verified by others. So, whatever I think of myself and whatever I try to project and perform in front of others, no matter how convinced I am to myself that something is of this degree and of that particular leaning or conviction, I would always fall into a dependency of the other to strengthen this conception of the self. Furthermore, this conception of “who I am” is also very fluid from one perceiver to the next.
In this self-referential series, I try to break open the discourse by inviting you to be me. It does find itself more persuasive to take upon the project of performing myself through self-portraits on a paradoxical note, which would also lend me the luxury to humourize myself. In line with this, I would like to see myself being featured in my own works to enable a caricature of myself played out by others. The title of the series, “You as Me” seems deceptively simple yet the more you think about it, the more you peel layers off of it, the more this conversation gets more and more complex. And complex would eventually lead itself its own inherent set of transgressions working within.
What lies within the realms of these portraits to have a hand at self-contradiction and self-cancellation is a crucial elsewhere to be delved into much further. In this elsewhere, I could perhaps find the potential to strengthen this particular conception I have of myself or perhaps through these other individuals creating this narrative of conceptions regarding me.
Further to the other side of things, the aesthetic of these images make the spectator feel like they are from another time like as if they were taken some time in the 1940s-1970s and the surface would easily fool the spectator of a certain nostalgic tendency. But such aesthetic has been achieved through a digital process and with completely digital means which turns things upside down. This then provides another angle to the fluidity of identities, which is in the bigger context: the volatility of identities in the digital age. The you can be a very unstable point of reference as the digital age would have a certain interconnectivity and merging of information and possibilities in seconds or even much less. And with a simple project like this one explored through self-portraits, it questions identity as it is stressed in this digital age where the rest of the world is interconnected online. The discourse breaks further like an elliptical discourse concerning this volatility of the self in the digital age.
1. From an essay on performance by Susan Bright in her book Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography.
2. Taken from Richard Avedon’s book entitled Performance.
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