What I look at is never what I wish to see

 

 

For many years I tried to avoid categorization. I thought of being seen as a way of reducing my freedom: freedom to act, talk and work without automatically identifying with some predefined images. It is just recently that it became clear to me how impossible that ‘staying out and being free’ project is. As Claude Levi-Strauss claims, the basis of human culture is identifying with one group, then, abandoning that group to identify with another (Cf. Levi-Strauss 1970). A pattern of going in and out of meetings with other people; a way to meet oneself. And talking about the self, maybe my endless fight against categorization is merely the result of what I saw when I, for the first time, recognized my own image in the mirror. As Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan puts it: alienation! A theory that continues with the child starting to identify with the mirrored image while, nevertheless, experiencing an extremely different reality (Cf. Lacan 2001:1-8). If that is the starting point of any human ego, as Lacan suggests, it sheds light on my childish attempt of avoiding all categorization.

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The choice of the models being female was intentional, of course, since I agree with Kristeva that the ideals of identification are gendered. And as both Barthes and Lacan claim about language-that it structures subjectivity-so does Judith Butler, in the introduction of her book “Bodies that Matter”, claim that gender structures bodies. In that way gender determines possible bodily experiences. It is not just a norm but part of what she, along with Foucault, calls a “regulatory ideal”. Butler writes: “It is not a simple fact or static condition of a body, but a process whereby regulatory norms materialize “sex” and achieve this materialization through a forcible reiteration of those norms.” (Butler 1993:1-2).

 

 

In the end I framed the photographs in wood and glass, not to protect the images but to enable the viewers to see their own reflections and in that way making possible the doubling of the process of looking at oneself.

 

 

(from What I look at is never what I wish to see) download

 

 

Colour photographs, 120*200 cm. Ongoing project.

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Installation view. Gallery KHM, Malmö, Sweden. 2009.