It’s been ten years since “selfie” was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries, describing it as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, especially with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.” Yet this approach to image-making is by no means new. Self-portraiture in the arts can be traced back centuries. It flourished in the Renaissance with the likes of Dürer and Jan van Eyck, whilst earlier examples date to ancient Egyptian and Greek civilisations. Now, as we navigate an era of deepfakes, photo-filtering and AI-generated visuals, the genre has become more complex to define than ever before.
Chrissy Lush is interested in the power of self-documentation. For the Nashville-based photographer, stepping in front of the camera is about delving into the subconscious and revealing inner truths. Her goal is to “express intangible emotions… the parts of myself which are hard to articulate.” The body of work taps into a tradition of performance-led imagery reminiscent of Cindy Sherman (b. 1954), whose Untitled Film Stills (1977-1980) positioned the artist within many different contexts and as various imagined characters.
Water droplets trickle down exposed shoulders. Records spin endlessly on loop, ice melting in nearby glasses. In one shot, Lush lies on a bright grassy bed, light refracting off her face. Elsewhere, we see the artist nestled into green upholstery or cloaked in rich orange velvet. For Lush, it’s these small actions, gestures and settings that “expose hidden fears or desires”. The key to understanding her visual world lies in the subtleties. “Even when I’m absent from the images, the scenes are representations of myself.”
All images courtesy Chrissy Lush.