Taken over many years, this project addresses certain existential questions about the female body, ranging from using the artist’s own body and “selfie” format to photographs of her grandmother, who was dying from dementia at the time. Issues of audience, woman as Other instead of Subject, beg the question- what does it mean to have an original face? Simone de Beauvoir speaks of “the strange ambiguity of existence made body,” so this work hopes to address that ambiguity by taking a look at the relationship between the viewer and the viewed, between the face and the camera lens, the audience and the photograph.
Each person who was photographed was also struggling with an invisible disability. Issues of the body and the self are compounded when that body is seen as a betrayal, through the lens of body dysphoria, or as antagonistic to the spirit. What is hidden v. what is shown is a theme that runs throughout the work.
The title is from the Zen Koan- “Quickly quickly, without thinking good or evil, before your mother and father were born, what was your original face?” What does it mean to be who you were before you were born? What does it mean to have a female body? A disabled body? A body with a familial lineage, within a societal context? “Original Face” hopes to address these questions while remaining open-ended. It is a deeply personal exploration on the physicality of being.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Isabel Winson-Sagan is an interdisciplinary artist, often collaborating with her mother Miriam Sagan. Santa Fe based artists, they combine text & the graphic arts in all of their work. To view their portfolio, please visit www.maternalmitochondria.com. On her own, Isabel works in a variety of mediums, including installation, printmaking/book arts, photography, and woodcarving.
© Isabel Winson-Sagan