Janet Lilo presents an exploration of provocative photography that comes straight out of popular culture via the web through social networking platforms. The photographs that are amassed provide a serious reflection on the preoccupation people seem to have with editing their identity and self-representation.
Fiji artists Luisa Tora + Sangeeta Singh at Fresh Gallery Otara
FGO daily shots | Saturday 13 June
MyFace is part of the Auckland Festival of Photography
A limited edition exhibition catalogue is available for free at Fresh Gallery Otara, featuring this essay by Wellington-based writer, Tessa King.
MyFace is an exploration of visual artist Janet Lilo’s fascination with social networking sites such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook, and in particular the way people use them as a platform for personal expression and identity in the form of self-portraiture.
Lilo looks at how users unwittingly challenge attitudes towards the photographic self-portrait. The widespread ownership of digital cameras makes self-portraiture easy, and the fact that an unflattering image can so easily be deleted and replaced with one that is more satisfactory means network-users are posting only those photos that represent exactly how they want to be seen.
The photographs that make up MyFace draw the viewer in, provoking a response of mixed fascination and embarrassment – indicative of self-portraiture photography’s new, and indeed still delicate, near-acceptance. The nature of the images causes a curious tension between public and private space, inspiring an awkward sense of voyeurism from the viewing of seemingly private photographs in a very public space.
Lilo has taken this public viewing a step further than the internet, effectively ‘stealing’ these images from the social networking sites they have been posted on and placing them in a different public space, one unhindered by the confines of that pseudo-private realm. Network-users take photos of themselves in the most private of places – in bathrooms and bedrooms where they will not be ‘seen’ – but then confound this apparent embarrassment by posting the results on the most public of forums, the internet, often with no restrictions on their privacy settings.
Taking advantage of this, Lilo takes these photos out of their original context to expose a false sense of privacy encouraged by the fact that much internet use takes place alone and at home. But once a photo is posted publicly, fellow users can do what they will with images, as Lilo has done with MyFace.
The photographs range from blatant self-portraiture with arms extended at the edge of the frame and the subject looking directly into the lens, to images expertly made to look as though they were taken by a third party. Within these styles there is the sexual, the strange, the doe-eyed cutesy, and the rather mundane, as people seek to manipulate the way in which they are seen by the world.
Janet Lilo’s Pecha Kucha Night presentation, November 2008
Pecha Kucha Night #11, Manukau Edition, Aotearoa New Zealand
Courtesy of Pecha Kucha Nights Aotearoa website
Janet Lilo, Skyping from Sapporo, Japan – Thumbs up to Young, Gifted & Samoan!