Full text See used
Dawn M Wilson. Facing the Camera: Self-portraits of Photographers as Artists
2012, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70(1): 56-66.
Expand entry
Added by: Hans Maes

Introduction: Self-portrait photography presents an elucidatory range of cases for investigating the relationship between automatism and artistic agency in photography – a relationship that is seen as a problem in the philosophy of art. I discuss self-portraits by photographers who examine and portray their own identities as artists working in the medium of photography. I argue that the automatism inherent in the production of a photograph has made it possible for artists to extend the tradition of self-portraiture in a way that is radically different from previous visual arts.In Section I, I explain why self-portraiture offers a way to address the apparent conflict between automatism and agency that is debated in the philosophy of art. In Section II, I explain why mirrors play an important function in the production of a traditional self-portrait. In Sections III and IV, I discuss how photographers may create self-portraits with and without the use of mirrors to show how photography offers unique and important new forms of self-portraiture.

Comment: Argues that the automatism inherent in the production of a photograph has made it possible for artists to extend the tradition of self-portraiture in a way that is radically different from previous visual arts. Demonstrates that automatism need not stand in competition or conflict with artistic agency.

Artworks to use with this text:

Ilse Bing, Self-portrait with Leica (1931)

It is usual for portraits to show a person's head either in profile or in a frontal position, but this self-portrait shows both alternatives simultaneously. It also depicts the presence of two mirrors in such a way that we are in a position to judge that the camera has recorded its own reflection. Thus, we see both the face of the artist and the "face" of the camera: it is a double self-portrait.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Smalls, James. African-American Self-Portraiture
2001, Third Text, pp. 47-62.
Expand entry
Added by: Hans Maes

Summary: As ‘always already’ racialized object of the white patriarchal look African-Americans have enduringly suffered from having to negotiate notions of the self from a crisis position. The act of self-portraiture for the African-American artist has the value of bestowing upon the self-portraitist a sense of empowerment.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture and depiction, as well as empowerment and art's role in power relations in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Lyle Ashton Harris, Construct #10 (collection of the artist, 1988)

Harris's self-portraits are redemptive and liberatory in their focus on the self. They challenge standard discourse on identity and subjectivity to present a new sign of black power and liberation. Because his photographs expose gender as constructed and performed, they also, in the process, subvert phallocentrism and compulsory heterosexuality.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Can’t find it?
Contribute the texts you think should be here and we’ll add them soon!