© Julian Wolkenstein  2019

"The Works Done For You", 2013

96 x 76 cm

15 x A5 paper cards and ink.

When asked to be part of a group exhibition around the theme of autoportraits ( self portraits ) the first thought that came to mind was  - a self portrait is fine, if you re a painter. But as a photographer, where subject trumps the expressive hand of a painter, then its a different matter entirely.

So rather than a photograph of Julian, face to camera in an earnest, forlorn wallflower pose, or in costumed Napoleonic glory, he rejected not only images, but anything pictorial.

 

Thinking of the how prevalent the self is conveyed in todays world and the symbiotic relationship of the sitter to the viewer led to questioning the validity of any portrait.

 

An image - a photographic portrait of Julian Wolkenstein - is given to a commercial research / focus group.There is no other information except this image.

They are asked to comment. 

 

The group was fed pizza. (Fig.1)

Yet this failed to soften some responses, with one respondent concluding that Wolkenstein was “prone to jealous rages and substance abuse”. Another was more generous, saying that Wolkenstein looked “like a young Nick Nolte”.

How much can we shape the views of others, and how much is pre-existing assumptions and prejudices?

 

The artwork is made from 15 focus group sitters handwritten responses on A5 cards, tiled together.

Fig 1