Defining the Assisted-Self Portrait
I believe collaborative work honours human vulnerability, interdependence and the need for communities of care. A method of working I term the assisted-self portrait aims to put this idea of collaboration as care into practice. The assisted self-portrait is the vision of the individual being represented, brought into being by the assistance of another. I view this collaboration as both active and passive, the active is the process of creating the piece together with another at the same time, the passive is through recontextualizing archival images or film either from the public domain or with the context of the other artist, but the works are always self-representations. This methodology grew organically between myself and my partner Oscar Vinter as an interdependent disabled partnership. This method not only honours mutual care, but resists silencing and narrative colonisation, as it allows the artist to think critically about how they want to be represented. On my website there are examples of the assisted-self portrait in development.
I recently delivered a work-in-progress video essay titled ‘Resisting the “sick role” through self-portraits’ which explores some of my influences.
For this residency I plan to continue in the digital realm and develop a passively assisted-self portrait experimental film. I will consider using snippets of my written memoir-in-progress, snippets of essays, autobiographical artworks, poetry, short stories, archived personal films and photographs, collages, stock footage and new works I will create during the residency.
Current plan for film:
Although I am open to change I have a current plan for the work I would like to focus on during the residency. Rather than it being a straightforward narrative, I want the film to resist narrative and explore aspects of my embodiment. I currently have four sequences in mind; nerve pain/general pain, anxiety/panic attacks/dissociation, time and the experience of living beyond my own death. The final section would invoke the writings of Maurice Blanchot to reflect on my own preparations for death and then living beyond that.
Below is an example of where I have previously used archive photos of myself by another artist, along with public domain images to create an assisted-self portrait through digital collage. The piece is called ‘It’s all in your head’ and was made alongside my essay ‘It’s All in Your Head – the Dangerous Legacy of the ‘Sick Role”.