The question “who is the ‘real’ person behind this artistic staging?” arises. But the answer to be found will never be that of a revelation of the “real” person – neither in the photographs nor beyond them.
Self-portraiture in the medium of photography refers to the complex nature of photography in general: the idea that photography could depict some sort of “pure” reality is an illusion – and was so even before the age of digitally edited photography. The “reality” in a photograph is affected by all kind of different influences – the photographer, technical matters, light, the chosen frame, to name just a view. This is also not to forget the selection and staging of the photographed object. Self-portraits should therefore not be used by art scholars to find out more about the “inner life” of the artist represented. I oppose the idea that the artists of self-portraits could be psychoanalytically analyzed through their images.
A self-portrait by an artist is an art manifestation which can be approached formally or contextually with different perspectives and methodologies and not as a print of the artist’s soul which is exposed.