This article focuses on photographic self-portraiture and, in particular, it investigates what happens when the genre’s proximity to conceptual borders is crossed (between the center and the margins, self and other, normal and deviant behaviour, consciousness and unconsciousness) are challenged. Drawing on psychoanalytic and semiotic theories, and the history of the genre, this article investigates the negativity ascribed to self-portraiture, its association with identity politics and social media, and problems of reference arising in contemporary work. The objectification of one’s body image is inherently linked to narcissism. This idea is useful for understanding the meaning of the photo-album/photo-diary, the therapeutic aspects of self-portraiture, and the rhetoric applied to images produced to bring visibility to marginalized and underrepresented groups, which also serve to challenge the art establishment. However, the prioritization of art as a context for photography, the popularity of the genre, and the changing ideas related to definitions of ‘the center’, demand a re-definition of representations of selfhoods.
- Social media