Photography was invented in an era during which the importance of subjectivity and individualism was highly celebrated. From its inception, portrait photography has depicted, established or even shaped identities, thus affirming the centrality of the subject within the cultural milieu of previous eras. Contemporary portraiture, however, challenges the very notion of subjectivity, by exploring the limits of its representation. The fragmented, disarrayed in parts, even effaced subject, as portrayed by contemporary artists, certainly promotes a subversive view of identity. This paper will discuss photography by Aziz and Cucher, a contemporary American photographic duo, by focusing on their unusual series entitled “Dystopia” (1994–95). Through an analysis of photos from their work, I will examine the ways in which the photographers manage to create alienating portraits, forced to be enclosed within, rather than projecting an “inner essence” outside, by literally sealing the natural orifices on a face. In Aziz and Cucher’s photography, the subject’s “face”, instead of being a signifier of meaning, paradoxically becomes unreadable, amorphous, thus confirming its aporetic place within an era of vast morphoplastic possibility.
|Keywords:||Portrait Photography, Subjectivity, Representation|
Instructor / PhD Candidate, Department of English Language and Literature, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece