Hentie van der Merwe "Selfshots" : SELECTED PAST EXHIBITIONS : CIRCA Gallery

Hentie van der Merwe "Selfshots"

This series consists of 33 LightJet© prints on Fuji metallic photo paper that has been Diasec© mounted in wooden frames (made from Sapele wood, which is a type of African hardwood used during the Apartheid era to manufacture desks, filing cabinets, etc. for State offices). The frames were especially designed and manufactured for this series in collaboration with Cape Town framer Wessel Snyman.

Each image in the series is a face that has been produced by means of an elaborate process of appropriation, reflection and manipulation. The process involved in producing these images, both as physical act and metaphorical gesture, is important to the concept of the series.

The above mentioned process begins with countless hours spent on the internet looking through photographs people have posted of their own reflections captured in private mirrors by cellphone cameras. I came to understand these types of online platforms for hosting such collections of images as a kind of contemporary self-regulating photo-archive of body- and face-types available for everyone’s participation; a fascinating phenomena in view of photography’s historic alliance with phrenology.

While going through these ever-expanding collections of photographed bodies, both naked and clothed, I would pause on images that intrigue me for whatever reason, and download these images. I would then import the image into Photoshop© and correct the colors as well as isolate the face by cropping the image, before printing the image using a desktop printer.

The photograph is then suspended by hand in front of a flexible mirror in my studio and its reflection re-photographed onto transparency film by means of a medium-format film camera mounted on a tripod. During processing the film is also further manipulated by means of push-processing so as to affect the colors. The resultant transparencies are then re-digitized by means of a drum scanner and then printed, mounted and framed.