For this assignment, we were tasked with taking two portraits; one representing ourselves and the other representing someone else. The parameters were as simple as possible and we were encouraged to go in whatever direction we wanted. I decided to stretch the concept of portraiture for my rendition(s).
When you go to find a definition for ‘portrait’ you’ll come back with a few different results. The range is from something more concrete: “a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders.” to something more abstract: “A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person.” In my take on this, I decided not to included any physical or literal representation of the subject. Instead, I portray their personality, or some aspect of it, through their belongings. I feel as if what is captured is their essence. Although they are not literally present, their belongings are, a piece of them, and through some sort of intangible force the portrait is still given character and life.
The first of the two, the self portrait, depicts my desk and chair in my dorm room. This was the first concept I came up with when choosing I didn’t want to literally show the subject. Although it is true that you can learn a lot about a person from their portrait, I feel like you can learn perhaps more, but definitely a different set of things through a portrait of their space. In this piece, you see someone’s space, how they choose to keep it, how they organize their things and thoughts. You get a very personal look into their life; when you meet someone for the first time, one of the last things you will see is their room.
The second portrait is of an unknown subject. It simply depicts a cigarette butt on the ground. To me, there is something very powerful about this image. It is something anyone walks past and over countless times a day, especially in the city. This is a very pure and raw version of a footprint. This image says “someone has been here”, but we’ll never know who. We’ll probably never be able to find this person or know any more about them, the only information we can get is that they were there at that moment and they smoked that cigarette.
Overall, in these two portraits (or so I call them) I wanted to break down the concept of a portrait and push the common boundaries. Both of these depict a specific subject and give the viewer a certain portrayal of them. They both break the classical rules, but you can get something from them you wouldn’t get from a typical portrait. Whether my method is better or worse doesn’t matter, but it matters that the product is different.