About self-portraits and icons

I have started a series of self-portraits, which is still in progress. I consider them as „icons“, or at least they are „iconesque“.

In the Christian tradition, an icon „presentificates“ the sacred, materializes it. The golden background or the halo is a very important part of the image because it transposes the painted figure into a non-natural space, which is that non-materializable, non-paintable, non-representable space where the sacred figures live in. Anna Moraova explains it in simple words: „ on a very personal level icon is for me ‘a window’ through which I look into another dimension“.

An icon’s golden background is symbolic, it conveys to the painted theme this „other dimension“, liberates the sacred persons from our material world. A very simple example of “icon background” in our every day life is portrait photography: the routine (unless we are doing some artistic photography) is to focus on the person and dematerialize the background, make it seem blurry and unrecognizable, in a way that the person we are portraying is sacralized, “immortalized”.

I personally like playing with the idea of aura and I use it for this recent series of self-portraits.
The „sacralization of oneself“ is integrated in a process of quest of identity.
The aura is not always „golden“. Here it is yellow:
Self-Portrait on a rainy Saturday night by Ina Mar
Self-Portrait on a rainy Saturday night by Ina Mar

Here the aura is complemented by kitchen tools:
Self-Portrait as the Perfect Housewife by Ina Mar
Self-Portrait as the Perfect Housewife by Ina Mar

Here the woman’s mirrored vision as a doll is the icon:
The painter's model in front of the mirror by Ina Mar
The painter’s model in front of the mirror by Ina Mar

Here the aura is black:
Self-Portrait as a pianist by Ina Mar
Self-Portrait as a pianist by Ina Mar

Here it is rather a reference to the iconic “golden background”. This is a portrait of me in time: From left to right: granny / me in the past / me in the present / me in the future. The background changes from light yellow (childhood), to yellow (youth), then to golden (older age) – the golden is of course the most elevated form of sacredness and symbolizes in my image maturity.

Self-portrait in time – Hommage à Jansem by Ina Mar

I have been very inspired and influenced by Vibeke Tandberg’s work, even though you will see absolutely no visual connexion to her images. I still cherish a lot one of her first series, „Posthumous (Aftermath)“ created in 1994, a series of photomanipulations where she appears as a missionary in Kenya, helping the poor, healing the injured, teaching poor children. The last part of her project is as series of fictive obituaries in newspapers, announcing the tragical death of great missionary Vibeke Tandberg. The sacralization of oneself, elevating oneself, becoming a martyr, representating ones own death and people mourning over your death is a theme which for me has to do with self-reassurance, self-seeking, seeking of ones identity – especially if you take a look at the rest of Vibeke’s artwork.

Links:
IKONesque, a RedBubble group about iconic images: http://www.redbubble.com/groups/ikonesque

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