Classical portrait painting dates back to the beginning of the Renaissance, when painters started to emphasise the depicted person’s individual traits in their pictures. The first portrait known was painted by Jean Fouquet in 1450. The genre of portrait painting rapidly became popular.
Being portrayed was initially the privilege of the rich, but it gradually took over, in the lower classes of society as well. The portrait, being the most subjective genre, does not only depict a person’s facial features, but it is also a valuable imprint of the spirit of that time. Thus, this genre makes it possible to learn about different ages, through the eyes of an individual. The portrait photography and the photography itself are both dated to 1839. In the same year the first selfie was taken by an American photographer, Robert Cornelius. The widespread use of Polaroid cameras in the 1960s resulted in the propagation of numerous selfie-attempts. The best known selfies are probably Andy Warhol’s Polaroid self-portrait series. Creating portraits, self-portraits and selfies was greatly facilitated by the technology enhancements, especially by today’s very small cameras, smart phones and the global digitalisation. The selfie-phenomenon has become a symbol of the narcissistic modern age. However, it also proves the individual’s strong demand for self-expression as well as for being connected to the society.
A special quality is given to the exhibition, by the fact that only one person can stay in the showroom at a time. Hidden mobile phones take photos of the visitor just before entering the room. Entering the exhibition space, the visitor faces his or her own portrait. Mobile phone cameras are hidden in the frames around the screens. More and more photos of the visitor are taken and continuously forwarded onto the next displays. Another uniqueness of the installation is, that the artist himself is not present at all during the creative process. The artwork is generated by the visitors, and only they can see their own portraits. The artist will never be able to see his work. The creator of the pictures remains an outsider, and entering the showroom, the artist himself becomes a visitor right away. The installation blurs traditional borders between the genres „portrait“ and „self-portrait“, because the person, who visits the exhibition contributes to the creative process, but immediately after leaving the room, all portraits disappear from the screens. The exhibition is changing constantly. The artwork is a self-focused game, inspired by a social media behavior phenomenon.
Due to the digital technology, portraits flood the internet and self-portraits are being mass-produced. The MySelf installation reveals the discomforting truth that the individual has irreversibly lost the control over their own pictures.