The Frenzy of the VisibleSelf-Portrait (2013)

The first thing I notice about this is actually the last thing that registers: these are both close-ups.

I’m not averse to close-ups; they allow for focusing on details that might otherwise be missed and when thoughtfully applied can draw attention to the foreign-in-the-familiar.

However, most close-ups exemplify a knee-jerk, voyeuristic fixation: faces and erogenous zones.

It’s sensible enough tactic–glimpse up-close that which is instinctively watched; but there are at least two flaws:

  1. Contextual diminution imposes a representational metonymy wherein a part of the subject (the face) replaces the whole.
  2. Heaping familiarity on top of familiarity in tandem with physical proximity of the imaging device to the subject fosters a false sense of intimacy.

With something like say: portraiture, these are–at worst–critical peccadilloes. When it comes to imagery preoccupied with explicit content, it’s rather another.

This not only shows something beautiful, it shows its work with regard to why what is being shown is being shown in the way it is. (i.e. in close-up)

To see it: take either image independent of the other. Each is strong image in-and-of-itself; each offers an incontrovertible reading of the scene: a male-bodied individual laying on clean, white sheets, masturbating.

Taken together, the artful foreign-in-the-familiar framing in the separate panels merges to form a close-up than in an acharacteristic manner conceals more than it reveals. (Further emphasized by the matting and the orientation as a diptych.)

Truly a first-rate, fucking crackerjack image.

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