The significant learning from this project has been the recognition that self-portraiture can be much more than an attempt by the artist to identify or capture the essence of themselves. Whilst autobiography can be the central topic of the exercise it can also be used as the catalyst to explore wider issues.
I considered some questions posed about self-portraiture in particular whether this genre is an example of narcissism or self-indulgence? Many artists seem to enjoy independence in their work in order to maintain control and to remain unhindered in their own particular working style so I can relate to this and see the attractiveness of the arrangement so no, I don’t necessarily see self-portraiture as self-indulgent.
However clearly there is much opportunity for narcissistic motivations in self-portraiture and in a culture and society dominated and built upon image this is an unfortunate consequence. I think the question needs to be posed of why does the particular artwork contain an autobiographical and or self-portraiture element but the question of what lies behind the art would always be relevant.
Another interesting question is about the relevance of nakedness in Elina Brotherus’s work. I am currently reading J Berger (1972) Ways of Seeing and nakedness is clearly defined as a revealing quality, “to be naked is to be without disguise.” (Berger, J. p 54, 1972)
As Brotherus’s Annunciation work is very much about being totally open and honest about the impact of involuntary childlessness and the feelings which ensue then the choice to be naked is entirely relevant.
I think the final point worth mentioning for future attention is that of all the featured artists in our research for this course there was only one male Nigel Shafran. Could this be related to Berger’s general view that the majority of art throughout has been concentrated on the traditional relationship based around the male artist painting a female subject for a male owner/spectator? More than possibly.
Berger, J (1972) Ways of Seeing, 2nd edition. (2008). London: Penguin books.