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2000 Ex-Girlfriends2012-2014, Videoprojection on lightbox tryptich. 3 elements; X:100cm Y:200cm Z:10cm overall.

To create this work, I downloaded 2000 selfies by girls from dozens of websites. Using Photoshop, I isolated each girl from the background and then superimposed the photos, one on top of another. Through this superimposition, the visual elements in common in each photo (such as gestures and positions) were highlighted, becoming darker shapes – the core of these photographic self-representations. Each photo originally showed a girl in front of a mirror with a cell phone or small camera in hand. These photos, uploaded from all over the world, are reduced to a repetitive series of poses, gestures and expressions. It’s impossible to know who the intended recipients of these photos were. These images lie on the border of photography: whether artistic, amateur, or pornographic. They are collected online by anonymous users, traded, copied, and shared.

The artwork is presented as a triptych of light boxes: on either end there are two images –one made up of 1000 selfies from the front and the other of 1000 selfies from behind, and in the middle there is an image composed of all 2000. On top of the middle image, a video slideshow is projected of the 2000 original photos at such high speed it’s impossible to clearly distinguish one image from the other. The video and photos blend together, creating an elusive and changing collective portrait.

This project started two years ago, along with my theoretical interest in mediated identity and self-representation in our Network Society, and my photographic research at the intersection of conceptualism and new technical possibilities. The long duration of the project and the obsessive manner of its creation reflect the social obsession for selfies, whose meaning can be found, above all, in being a mass phenomenon. Time also gave me the opportunity to arrange and experiment with a wide range of ideas, techniques, ambiguities, suggestions and points of view, ultimately presented as a single artwork.

Special thanks to Yana Birÿkova for the video projections \ projection mapping.


Preview of the work exhibited at: Zine Semaine 2 – copyleft/copytheft, (2013), curated by: RATS 9 collective, Édifice Belgo, Montréal, Québec, Canada

Posted by Emilio Vavarella