As I continue to think about the idea of vanity and how we capture the self-portrait in contemporary communications, I am drawn to looking at the painting of one’s face and decorating of the skin as something which is common across cultures all over the world. This distortion of reality has become something fundamental to many people; “I’m just going to go and put my face on”; as though we only partially exist prior to the application of products. Products which make rich people even richer. We are consumers in the media and advertising led destruction of self-esteem. No longer should we be comfortable in our own skin. We should want to ‘fake it’; boobs, teeth, hair extensions, face-lift, eyelashes, fake tan….the list is endless. It is necessary that we SHOULD NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOW WE LOOK. No way. Because this would stop us investing in an industry which makes billions out of our insecurity. It’s time this stopped. I have no patience for the ‘circle of shame’ used too often particularly in women’s magazines; shaming women for having cellulite, an unshaven armpit, a few roots showing. If we are not conventionally perfect – set now by a mythical standard which is digitally remastered to actually represent something which cannot actually be achieved by the human body – then we are ‘not good enough’.
Make-up is just another mask. So I wanted to use paint…to ‘become’ the painting. ! There IS room in society for all of us with our thick uncontrollably wavy hair and our tea-stained teeth and our features which are not quite symmetrical. There is room for those of us who want to wear make-up and don’t, those who like to remove all their hair and those who remove none, all shapes and sizes. We should stop being made to feel inadequate, and consequently buying into this aesthetic set of values which make us all feel bad.
Finally I decided to take some images which dispensed with the need to have a clear face. The images pick up on the notion of how physical identity is very much a transient notion; that we can change; fake; edit; filter and disguise who we are. It also reminds me of some of the recent work of Alexa Mead http://alexamead.com/artwork/ and the work of artist Francis Bacon. The phrase ‘Putting my Face On’ also seems rather apt.