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Race for the Prize: The Proto-Selfie as Endurance Performance Art

In Self-Representation in an Expanded Field, , Ed.


In the paper “Race for the Prize: The Proto-Selfie as Endurance Performance Art,” the author characterizes a small group of artists (including himself) working on time-lapse, self-portrait photographic projects as competitive— in a race with distinct formal, aesthetic, and technical categories. Set on the cusp of the millennial change from 20th to 21st century, these self-portrait works suggested practices and modes of new digital materiality that helped to birth the phenomenon called “the Selfie.” In the few decades before this Web 2.0 debut, the self-portrait was already evolving with electronic media. Neo-avant-garde performance artists and post-modern photographers were making identity-fluid works, self-portraits that were highly performative, prefiguring the coming practices of self-representation in digital networks. An important link, a reference to the passage of time, reinforce a familiar theme in art history—memento-mori, which is a reminder to the viewer that our time alive is fleeting. In this way, along with other threads, including first-hand accounts by the quartet of time-lapse self-portrait artists, we can derive the context and continuity that connects antecedents to descendant selfie practices, ubiquitous in contemporary culture.
Self-Representation in an Expanded Field
Published in:

Self-Representation in an Expanded Field

Ace Lehner
, Ed.
Published: May 2021
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