There is no ‘body’ on display in Androulla Michael’s self-portraits, nor is there a face; just the cosmetic remains of her day on a small circular cotton pad. Each evening when her makeup is removed she archives this relic in a large black folder. Personal thoughts and reflections of the day just past are often written on a label and attached adhered to the pocket in which the used swab is housed. It is then catalogued alongside the many that came before it.
For over 10 years, Androulla has kept an on going selfie diary of her life through the removal and recording of her daily cosmetics. This became a ritual, a physical and metaphorical cleansing that occurred as each day came to a close. The process reveals much more than the pigments upon the surface of the swab or photo paper they would eventually adorn.
Each swab is photographed in large format to create an oversized detailed print, evoking a transformative visual landscape of the face on whose contours the makeup once resided.
Androulla’s works invert every element of the selfie – giving the viewer a glimpse of herself that is more than skin deep. Rather than putting on a mask for the camera she takes hers off. By removing her identity from the image she chooses to focus upon the humanity underneath. Her interest in the work of Rembrandt’s self-portraits particularly informs her work, which explores the human condition and ideas of self-representation through autobiographical unembellished depictions of realism.
Quoting a review of her work by Helen Trompeteler former curator at Royal Collection Trust and National Portrait Gallery:
“Androulla Michael’s intriguing images challenge historical notions of portraiture by removing any literal likeness of the individual. While Michael’s images are autobiographical in origin, she uses these diaristic images as a means of asking much wider questions concerning societal pressure for perfection or conformism. Where self- portraiture in popular culture often involves a form of social performance, these images are appealing in their abstract and subversive nature.”
Vogue Italia published an article on this project that was written by Milan based Psychoanalyst Andrea Bocchiola. Click on the following link to view this article.
Presented below are a selection of images from My Diary #Selfie of a Nobody (365 days) - there are a total of 365 selfie masks, each one represents a day in the life of a women living today.