Thank you for checking out my blog and for your interest in this art venture, which I’ve tentatively titled The Self-Portrait Project. This is a blog about the project. Throughout the project I will post written thoughts and updates, photographs, and videos. I hope you enjoy them and please participate as much as you want – leave comments or questions and contact me anytime and as often as you’d like and share the blog to anyone and everyone. This project is very much about all of us and I hope you will participate if you feel so inclined – please read this as an open invitation.
If you’d like to know a little about me, check out the “about” section on the website.
Okay, now that that is over with, let’s talk about what The Self-Portrait Project is:
The Self-Portrait Project came to me out of a bad habit. Oftentimes I have trouble sleeping, and when I can’t sleep I have a tendency to shop online in the middle of the night. Last year I bought masks. Lots of masks. At first I bought masks from the 1920s made out of cheesecloth. They were masks of birds, wolves, cows, pigs, and other bizarre animals. Some masks were of people with expressionless faces and wispy moustaches. After the cheesecloth masks, I collected plastic masks in vivid pop colors from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. These were mainly Halloween masks from Ben Cooper. I think I have about thirty of them.
This year my midnight sleepless shopping became more eclectic. I bought an avocado tree, two books on race relations, an entire collection of Lonsdale hoodies, a battery operated lantern and survival knife for when I’m sure to go camping, three Lonsdale hats and a pair of Lonsdale shoes, coffee beans from California, more Lonsdale hoodies (quick side note on Lonsdale hoodies – they are the only article of clothing that can make you feel cozy cuddly and at the same time make you feel like a bad ass fighter), and lastly and most relevant I bought a small point and shoot film camera.
Excited to test my new point and shoot camera, I quickly loaded a roll of film and started experimenting and shooting everything, including pointing the camera at myself, which made me think of the selfie and how much that has become a part of the vernacular. From there my mind started wandering and the next morning I emailed a bunch of people (friends and strangers alike) in a half awake delirious state asking them if they would like to participate in a project I had in mind.
The project at its core is simple: one shared camera that travels to people around the world and each person has one week with the camera and one roll of black and white film to express themselves however they want making self-portraits. After their week is up they mail the camera back to me, I take the film, and send the same camera loaded with a new roll of film to the next person. While the camera travels I will process everyone’s film, print photographs, and share them here (and eventually at an exhibition or book or who knows where the project will go). The idea is to have a shared experience of expression around the world.
The initial response to the project (and those first batch of emails) has been awesome. There are roughly fifty people so far who want to participate from eight different countries including the United States, Spain, Ukraine, Canada, The Philippines, China, Germany and Russia. Some of the people are artists and photographers and others are not. The project is open to everyone.
One of the things that I will be doing as the project evolves is map the travels of the camera. I have a large map of the world and I will be placing a pin at each point in the world where the camera is and then connect each point with thread. As I’m writing this first post, the camera has been to my hometown of Rochester NY, Brooklyn NY, a small town near Albany NY, and to Berlin (in Germany). It will soon be traveling to Ukraine. There is a handmade journal that accompanies the camera for each self-portrait artist to write about their experiences if they choose.
As the project continues I will post photos on this site from each participant and you can see what people are doing and comment and communicate with everyone. The camera is very simple to use and accessible to anyone. I want the experience to be of self-expression as you have COMPLETE CREATIVE CONTROL shooting your self-portraits. I will process, edit, and print your photographs having editorial control.
Borders, tribes, languages, bodies, religions, philosophies, politics, and nationalities divide us, but there is a collective human thread among us all. I hope this project illuminates that. I invite everyone to follow this blog and if you would like to participate in the project, I would LOVE to have you on board. This is just the beginning. I want our little traveling camera to re-map the world, and I hope you want to be a part of it (as observer or participant). If you want to participate go to the contact section on this site and send me a message. I would love to hear from you.
Before I end this first post I want to leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein. He had a little something to say about the collective human condition and I think it’s apt to share it here: “Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why … however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of other [s] —above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, [and] for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.”
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