Anne Stamats

The War Within (2017)
digital photograph on canvas
59 x 47 in.

My heroin, my kryptonite: a series is about love, aging, anguish, and melancholy happiness.

I take iPhone selfies and manipulate them with filters, only increasing contrast and then changing them to b&w. A standard process is important so it’s the moment I capture and avoid over manipulation. Selfies become our mask, a narcissism reinforced through social media.

The pixelated image on loose canvas is how I feel – stretching, shrinking, unfocused, trying to be everything to everyone, every day. The marks originally were smeared lipstick from wiping my tears away and ended up looking like war paint for a battle – a substitute for the cutting I did as a teen – a mask, my wrinkles, my feminine power, the war within me.

These moments are ugly, sad, strong or beautiful. I love how I don’t look like myself because I don’t always feel like myself and I question who I am – who I am becoming. I am addicted to this narcissism to search for “self” using photography as my mirror, hoping not to become solipsistic.

After reading an article in the New York Times by Nina Siegal called “With Rembrandt, the Selfie Takes on New Meaning.” April 16, 2015, I now call these images “self-portraits” because making self-portraits involves careful self-observation and a rawness of emotion, capturing what is happening inside me.

Ultimately, I find I keep asking the question, who am I and can true self really exist or do we only get just so close.

© Anne Stamats