Self Portrait # 1, 2003


Born in 1960 and now living and working in New York, the American artist Jack Pierson has gained renown as a conceptual and media artist particularly since the 90s. His approach to himself and to the common portrait genre in his photo series "Self Portrait" (2003 - 2005) is iconoclastic: he doesn't take life-sized photographs of himself, but rather of a different male subject for each of the photos. The spectrum of styles, from the more staged to the spontaneously photographed, covers subjects from pre-puberty male youths to seductive Californian beach boys to more mature and distinguished men, each representing the artist at a certain age in his life or in a certain mood. Even celebrities like Brad Pitt stood model for these self portraitures, in addition to the young men who, with their unmistakable poses, reveal the sexual interest of the artist.

The manner in which these 'self-portraits' are intentionally arranged reveals the fundamental working concept behind the work: that these photos are indeed stagings and stylizations, which could also be considered as portrayals of the artist's own 'ideal I'. With considerable dexterity Jack Pierson combines the amorously covetous gaze at his wistful objects with a narcissistic mirroring of his idealized embodiments in his photography. "By projecting his own self upon the bodies of others, an element of being in love with one's self - which is more ore less explicitly part of any self portrait - becomes the desire for the other", as Isabel Fluri states.

Longing and desire are the motors of this photo series, and that is why the artist's view is coloured by an oscillating movement back and forth between the desire to possess the portrayed individual and the desire to be embodied in him.