This section introduces a number of visual strategies that define different types of self-portraiture with regard to their propinquity to the clichés of portraiture. They also define different attitudes to narrativity, illustrating my wish gradually to enrich the work’s general theme through consideration of elements inside the narrative scene, as well as elements concerning the work’s overall appearance.
The photograms derive from a desire to strip images down to an equal emphasis on image construction and indexicality. On the one hand, the images’ construction and artificiality dominates their overall appearance because of the emphasis on their physical support and the association of photograms with ‘forms’ that describe only the shape of an object and its density. The images present themselves as binary codes, forming patterns on each individual sheet, between information and empty wall space (image 20), or between tinted and non-tinted papers (image 22).
All images in this exposition, including the ones in the previous sections, are defined by different geometries and structures (circular, hierarchical, triangular, linear, mise en abyme, and mirroring) applied externally to the work, to the general layout of the scene, or to groupings of characters and clues. This is disguised in the smaller portraits and polyphase images that are presented in the previous sections of the exposition because of their increased representationality and detail, but it is more obvious in the photograms (images 19–22) that have less narrative complexity.
The use of photography and narrative elements (gestures, atmosphere) can be catalytic in counterbalancing the initial, superficial impressions received from the heightened artificiality of the work. No other photographic genre is closer to the idea of the analogue imprint. Beside, the scenes represented are narrative: they are polyphase and contain spatial relationships, movement, temporality, and references. This equal emphasis on image construction and indexicality aims to add gravity and formality to the images’ references to esotericism and solipsism. For example, Domestic Scene with Mirrors (2012), image 21, refers to representations of women with mirrors found on archaic pots. Preoccupation with the mirror is a sign of femininity and is considered antisocial (narcissistic in the conventional sense) and linked to domesticity: a replacement for, or barrier from a subject’s participation in the common and political life. In combination with the image’s superficially contemporary appearance, it aims to capture the current meaning of such ideas and phenomena.
In the Defected Rota-trope (2010), image 23, the semi-circular disposition of the images emphasises the lack of progression in the image-sequence, despite it being a sequence. The second work in this category, the Dislocation Creep (2012), image 24, as the term in the title also implies, refers to minor changes in the image, which necessarily change – even superficially – the overall work. Both works operate as metaphors for narrativity as a tendency, not a resolved outcome.
The Cliff with Pine Trees triptych (2012), image 25, is meant to reproduce the polyphase effect of the black-and-white composite images. Here, instead of digitally composing the images, I weave strips from different images to multiply the figures and bring different elements together. Weaving makes visible the image’s construction. It also links the image’s narrative to different traditions and forms of labour linked to mythologies of femininity.
Each work took its final form gradually, through envisioning and composing elements in different stages: before, during, and after the image was made. I consider the resulting works to be residual rather than proportional to different definite narratives. They are the outcome of an empirical procedure of structuring, framing, reworking codes, and existing or intuitive narratives, drawn from my own experiences and visual bank of references. I consider the procedure of making the images equal to the viewer’s reconstruction of a narrative in his or her attempts to fill the narrative gaps: I let the images exercise their projective power on me, with the difference that I am physically drawn into the work to bring different elements together, reduce the narrative gaps, and enhance narrativity and legibility. Yet, the work does not attempt to reach a linguistic degree of organisation or raise photography’s narrative indexicality in Werner Wolf’s terms – that is, toward the affirmation of a pre-existing narrative. I provide clues and entry points to animate the viewers’ elaborate engagement but the images are not resolvable; instead, they are just as nebulous and varied as the signs themselves. The resulting images are dialectical and open to analysis – inviting questioning, yet indefinitely suspended.