Tuesday, August 23, 2011



Self-portrait after heartache, 2009 -  Is this me or a pastiche? 
I thought of a portrait of my glamorous grandmother when I took this, 
it was not a conscious imitation, but an attempt to get away from 
my typical way of putting myself in front of the camera .

To explore the self, is my artistic mission. Ultimately the aim is to construct and deconstruct the self, to use what feels authentic from a subjective point of view but also look at what I am I expressing outwards with a certain objectivity and see how I could go beyond my comfort zones and limitations. It might be healthy to question one's own identity and see how one might be able to intervene more actively in order to manage one's own development in more constructive directions. What in my life and my artistic expression works well and what is limping?

There is no permanent self. When I began keeping a diary many years ago I attempted to catch myself in that fleeting moment, at best once a day. 24 hours represents the temporal structure that no one can escape. The only thing we do know is that the day begins and ends at 24 hour intervals. Within the framework of this period, we try and cram in all that helps us identify ourselves. How we sleep, how we eat, how we work, how we organize our environment, how we love, what we hate, how we are happy, how we are depressed, how we distract ourselves, and so on. Some people hate themselves, others glorify themselves. To have a truly healthy sense of self is unusual. And if that is not enough quagmire, we must also try and relate to other people who have misconceptions about themselves, and seek to identify ourselves on the basis of how we relate to these people. How can we ever have a clear concept about who we are? The challenge of documenting the self as it "really is", even for a short period of time, was massive and it is not strange that I got tired ... I also knew that I would have to make compromises, including filling some holes in the story by using vague memories, and trying in an honest way to take only what I once long ago inculcated my minds as being a true story (I have clear memories of defining moments in my life while most of my past is hazy). Yet we are meant to be interconnected with the environment. Otherwise we would not have feelings. Emotions is an energy, almost a fluid, which conveys information between us and the external world (to put it simply).

Why was this so important? I wanted to feel that I do not live my life in vain, as a seed in the wind, without making a difference. It is challenging to live - for me there is no automation to hang on, but it all requires both deep thought and effort. It is demanding to be aware of the resistance of the body, or that life does not work like a machinery. I would like to help, but who? With what? I have to accept ignorance - my own and others! Some things depend on who I think I am, others on who I really am. In addition to various roles, there is a self that is relatively constant, a personality that is unaffected by external circumstances. But I can see that I move like a chameleon in relation to the world and what feels constructive. It is perhaps not so much about what I get from others as the point of contact you find when you encounter a common denominator. As Sartre pointed out, you become in the eyes of others. When you're by yourself, there are two options. You can either distract yourself so that you get away from yourself, or you may experience your self as intensified by thoughts, feelings and behaviour. By the end of the day, there no one who can say how much of the stories they tell themselves about themselves, is in fact fictitious.

It's not healthy to spend too much time on your own, you lose some perspective on  the real world, ie. the reality we live in as a collective and that we agree on on the level of the collective consciousness. In the end, paraphrasing various esoteric ways of thinking, one might say that everything is a kind of fiction, one's own life is a creation created to illustrate different ideas or simply to have experiences just for the heck of it. Excessive self-consciousness (most people, however, go through different periods of this in their life) is negative while moments of happiness and self-forgetfulness is positive. "Truth" or the key to happiness is not likely to be at either end of the stick, but somewhere on the golden middle path, in synthesizing a paradox involving subjectivity and objectivity, negative and positive, in a harmonious balance.

Vivi-Mari Carpelan: Self-portrait as a bride 2010
When asked "what kind of person do you want to be?" I say "radiant", yet fully aware of the deep undercurrents that can take me to the exact opposite state of being. Also, that it can be almost impossible to resist the temptation to be an enfant terrible. "A better version of myself" is another desire that may seem quite impossible in practice when you realize how vain it is to force internal change. Change has a tendency to move in accordance with the laws of nature - the human will can only work as a start-up motor.

You can dress up in pretty clothes and pretend that your body is healthy, that you're popular and that life is a success. It can be comforting and uplifting. Disappearing in the masses is frightening for those who have begun to reflect on their identity. But is it me? Maybe it's me in the moment I think it's me. Yet, amidst all this, it is obvious to me that uniqueness, authenticity, and an ever-increasing awareness, whatever it means, is an end in itself,  and how we go about achieving this is our way of life within the framework of this  particular reality.
"Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (Magritte).
It's not me. These are not my regular clothes,
the body does not look like this,
and I do not fit into this particular landscape.
It's just a photo.
Or maybe it is me right now when I am thinking it? 

The life story must follow some sort of logic if we are to survive. 
Therefore we have to cling to different beliefs about who we were, who we are and who we can become.

"This is not a pipe", René Magritte 1928-29 ( From "The Treachery of Images")

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