Saturday, October 06, 2007
Reasons To Shoot Myself
I used to photograph myself a lot. Crude Polaroids were always the first step in the preparatory phase of my early paintings. I used them to work out compositions that would best translate into strong, simple shapes and flat planes of colour. I also sketched myself, using a mirror, but photographs allowed me to examine myself from angles impossible to see in reflection. They helped me capture unusual perspectives or awkward poses (many of which I couldn't hold for more than a few seconds).I was both artist and muse. The few times I used someone else as a model, the results were useless. My process was ruthlessly forensic and tedious. Those subjected to it found it difficult – stripped of any personality or dignity, they occasionally felt exploited. Photographing myself allowed me to push the boundaries as far as I could without worrying about another's discomfort. Over time, I began to explore – again, in a detached, forensic way – what it meant to exploit oneself.There's a comic, self-mocking element to my early Polaroids. I often donned costumes or props – cowboy hats, roller skates, singlets wet with water. A pair of pink, slightly see-through underpants evolved, unintentionally, into a psycho-sexual constant in more than one series of paintings over the past decade. I cared less about the backgrounds. I used wherever I happened to be staying or working at the time, and paid little attention to what was in them. As a result, my study images now form an unexpected, journal-like narrative – or autopsy – of my early personal life and work. With time, they've turned out to be much more self-revelatory than I'd ever intended.