Finland-based artist Iiu Susiraja has an interesting array of conceptual self-portraits featuring her posing, in an unorthodox manner, with household items. Shot in domestic settings, Susiraja seems to be mocking domestic lifestyle, or possibly mocking the framework we feel we must live within: the operative chores and habits that are considered normal. The work is silly but layered. Susiraja wears items in the wrong way; leggings on her breasts, or taping high heels around her knees, the images are reminiscent of a childs brash reaction to something that makes no sense, but is so ritualized we stop questioning the absurdity of something like the discomfort of tall heels. Why dowe wear them?
Certain blogs on the internet have been deeming this the “anti-selfie”, although, conceptual portraits have been around for nearly as long as photography has. We all remember Cindy Sherman, don’t we? It seems attaching a hyped up word such as selfie, which the encompassing item we have thrown today’s self aggrandizing
A selfie is a shot of one’s self, yes, but it is characterized by the blatant self-importance of it, the self-promotion, the self-self-self. It is, generally, a tactless and shameless documentation of ME. The only statement being made, if any, is a call for attention. We have only recently, as a society, begun to feel comfortable enough to do something once considered impolite or, selfish. While art could easily be argued to be some of these things, such as egomaniacal (and this would be an eternally long argument), you could hardly consider a conceptual portrait to be in the same ballpark, or game, as a selfie. Susiraja’s work is not an anti-selfie, it is simply art. If we compare her work with a generic selfie, there are some major differences in intention, audience, and presentation. What is the intention behind the piece; is the artist working as a medium to transmitting a message that reaches beyond the mere documentation of her own existence, or is it tepid self-promotion? Is the audience Instagram? And finally, was it shot on an iPhone? Taking these things into account, it appears calling work like this an “anti-selfie” would be like calling a letter an “anti-email.” Are we in a place to recategorized “art” and limit it by simply referring to it as an antithesis to a trendy movement it predated?