Tag Archives: Self Portraiture

Entry into the 2013 Kodak Salon


Photograph by Charlotte Pridding, 2013

This year, I submitted one of my photographs into the Kodak Salon, a photographic competition that is exhibited at the Centre of Contemporary Photography in Melbourne, Fitzory. The Kodak Salon encourages a range of photographers to submit their own work into this annual competition, the photographic prints are exhibited at the CCP gallery for at least three to four weeks.1

The Kodak Salon is based in Australia and there are twenty different awards across various disciplines. According to the official CCP website, the Kodak Salon is inspired by a particular style used in Paris during the 1800’s, many galleries and exhibitions in France would display the artworks across the wall from top to bottom.2

There were some amazing photographs on display and there were a few artists that have incorporated the skull into their own work. I decided to submit a print I had produced at the very start of this year, the title of the work ‘reassurance’ features a photograph of myself at the beach with a skull painted onto my face.

The photo was inspired by my Honours research project that explored the growing interest in the skull within Melbourne’s urban / street culture. I started to develop an interest for the Mexican sugar skulls that I discovered in many bars, restaurants, shops and galleries across Melbourne. These colourful and decorative ornaments inspired me to create a series of black and white self portraits that depict my own personal perspectives of the Mexican sugar skulls that are commonly associated with the Day of the Dead Festival.

Once I completed my degree, I continued taking photographs of myself in various locations in order to discover my own interpretations of death and the depiction of the skull in the contemporary visual culture. I’m still searching for a specific answer, which has been rather difficult as my own personal interpretations do change on a daily basis.

I decided to enter the photograph of myself at the beach that questions what happens after death, what happens when the human body deteriorates? Does everything suddenly turn to darkness or do we move from the living world to a completely different place? It’s really hard to tell as there isn’t one definite answer, how can we define death if we have never experienced it before?

Of course everyone has their own interpretations, I’m hoping these photographs will hopefully provide the answers to all of my questions.  So that pretty much summarises everything at the moment, I’m currently working on another project at the moment that I would love to share to you all once I’ve completed everything, so stay tuned! 🙂

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Sue Ford

1/8/12 – Sue Ford Renowned: Photographer and Visual Artist

I decided to investigate the works of Sue Ford who is an Australian photographer who has taken a series of self portraits. I remember having a conversation with my supervisor who had suggested to research Ford’s photography for inspiration of the exhibition. Over the past few weeks I have been experimenting with self portraiture and I have recognised that my work in progress shots feature a similar style or composition to Sue Ford’s photography.

Time Machine at Monash Gallery of Art

Ford has also exhibited in the Monash Gallery of Art in Melbourne, which was named “Time Machine”. According to the MGA official website, Time Machine explores femininity through a series of black and white portraits, which were taken over thirty years ago.

The MGA website also explains that Ford had “passed away” during the actual development of the exhibition, although Ford had also developed over thirty years of self portraiture, which examined “memory, time and space” through a photographic medium, which inspired the Monash Gallery of Art. (Monash Gallery of the Art, http://www.mga.org.au/exhibition/view/exhibition/86)

The Australia council also articulates Ford’s influence on contemporary photography in the Australian culture during the 1970’s. Ford’s work has also influenced galleries and public art spaces around Melbourne including the ‘National Gallery of Victoria’ who had agreed to display the artist’s work.

Photography: Presence and Absence 

One could argue that the photograph maintains the presence and the absence of the artist through self portraiture, which is also explained in Henry Sayre’s analysis into the photographic image. (Sayre, 1989 p.1) Does a photograph really have the capability to resonate a connection with death? A photograph of someone who is no longer present may become quite a confronting experience, which may reinvigorate certain emotions that are related to the subject of death.

Ford’s self portraits may preserve the artist’s presence through a photographic medium, which transforms the artist’s physical presence into a material or a tangible form. Has the death of the artist altered the meaning and the context of the photographs? The self portraits may create an emotive response in relation to Ford’s death, which invites one to consider photography as a visual medium that is capable of expressing social, cultural, historical and political contexts.

Self Portraiture in 21st Century Visual Culture: The Internet and Social Networking Sites

Ford also takes most of her shots in front of the mirror with the camera, which is something I have been experimenting with during the research project. Ford’s portraits also project a clear composition between shape or form, which emphasises the main components within the image. One could argue that taking photographs of one’s self has become an extremely popular form of representation within the visual culture, which has bombarded the internet and social networking sites.

Many Internet users are now taking photographs of themselves for profile pictures or status updates, especially for networking sites such as Facebook. Facebook appears to be saturated with self portraits that are used for public profiles, which may imply that self portraiture has become a popular medium within the 21st century. Has a traditional art form become accessible to a wide audience through the internet and other social networking sites?

Due to recent technology  it is easy for someone to take a photograph and upload it onto Facebook, although photography is still an art form, which requires skill or technique. Sue Ford doesn’t really examine the image of the skull and the reason why I am researching the artist is to understand different styles or techniques within photography, which would assist with the exhibition.

The Skull as a Self Portrait 

On the other hand one could argue that a self-portrait is an image of a skull, which invites one to contemplate the shape or the size of the person’s face.It is quite a strange feeling to realise that each person has a skull, which is concealed with layers of skin or other essential organs.

We’re unable to see the actual skull itself although you can recognise the shape of a person’s skull. We’re completely surrounded by skulls in everyday life and in the visual culture, which is constantly saturated with the iconic imagery of the skull. Does the image of the skull emphasise society’s ongoing fascination with mortality and the internal structure of the human body?

The skull has entered the external word through image, form and representation, which has become a popular trend within popular culture or mass consumption. (Faye, 2011 p.7)

Monash Gallery of Art “Past Exhibitons: Sue Ford, Time Machine”, Monash Gallery of Art, http://www.mga.org.au/exhibition/view/exhibition/86 (Accessed 1/8/12)

Australian Coucil of the Arts “Australia Council Mourns the Passing of Visual Artist, Sue Ford”, Australian Council of the Arts 2011, http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/artforms/visual-arts/news_items/Australia_Council_mourns_the_passing_of_visual_artist_Sue_Ford (Accessed 1/8/12)

Sayre, Henry.M. The Object of Performance: The American Avant – Garde since 1970 London: The University of Chicago Press., Ltd, 1989. p.1 

Dowling, Faye. The Book of Skulls. Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2011 p. 7 – 13

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