Portraiture in a broader sense. The purpose of this medium is to represent the person within a single piece, having highlighted and portrayed their qualities, place in society and personal identity. Though through my research and knowledge on this subject, I know that all too often this results in an enhancement, or fictional portrayal of the sitter. This is a relevant issue in todays modernity, with instant compulsive access to social media and abundance of publications spewing their celebrity culture gossip upon the internet, self worth and the need to impress and absorb instant gratification by sharing and exaggerating individuals lives has become the norm.
In consideration of this project, I was particularly drawn to Instagram, an image-sharing site, where people thrive to achieve a large following by shooting their lives on their smart phones, to commonly falsely represent themselves. With the use of ‘hash tags’, trends form on the network that are viewed and mimicked by countless users. So I thought it would be appropriate to base my project on a modern day public portrayal of identity, aside from a Selfie.
The Heel Concept trend was initiated by an art student, but was soon mimicked by thousands, using unusual objects to construct a high heel. Whilst contributors were trying to prove their fashion and creative worth, I wanted to develop the concept further in terms of identity. Selecting various subjects, from family members to distant acquaintances, I took the time to collate the person I could grasp from their intended portrayal through their social media profiles, before meeting in person to discuss the aspects of their lives, in order to mutually agree on the subject’s representation.
Whilst being inspired by various influential feminist artists, such as Sam Taylor Wood and Sarah Lucas, I developed my project onto only using the female gender, with consideration of objectification and the male gaze. Considering important female figures in my own life, in particular my mother, I have always admired her ability to manage so much, but puzzled by the expectation, that she conforms to, to always look her best. Is she doing this for herself or others? It seems to be a generalised view, and the norm in our society, for women to satisfy the eye. Along with this, an obvious representation of a made up women is the high heel. So I have created insightful, revealing images, following aspects of portraiture, using objects to create the form of a high heel, positioned around the subject’s foot, creating a physically faceless image, but controversially my images are more telling, informative and representational of the subject, than the common portrait.
Below is the image I have selected to represent this concept, a portrayal of Teresa Robertson, my mother. There are three main aspects of the image in order to define her identity. Firstly, being a mother, she is the heart and soul of our family, she is strong and supportive, consequently we have select a pillar ornament to reflect this. Her foot leads to a glass vase, to represent her current business venture, a homeware shop, using all her energy and talent have deemed it very successful. Finally, the acrylic paint smeared upon her foot tells of her artistic skills, she incorporates into many aspects of her life. Collectively, this achieves a portrait of the subject, providing an influx of identity and qualities.