Posted by on Sep 25, 2010 in Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The theme of October’s Stumptown Underground compilation is “Self-Portrait/Self-Reflection.” I’ve never been one for auto-biography. So though many of my friends have worked in the genre, and I enjoy many auto-bio comics, I’ve never been able to do one myself. Even when I tried keeping a daily “comics journal” in the style of Chelsea Baker at the beginning of 2010, I was unable to stay on the topic of my own life (which in January was admittedly pretty boring) – I would end up describing the book I had just read or the movie I’d just seen, including only a cursory auto-bio framing narrative, or none at all.

I hardly want to come off sounding like some righteous crusader against solipsism or attention-whoring; after all, I have a facebook page and TWO blogs. I’m certainly not above the frothy foam of perpetual self-reinvention that characterizes my generation of rootless hipsters. But nevertheless, I do think a certain diligence is required to look beyond the confines of the self, or at least an acknowledgment of the self’s permeability. Increasingly I think of it as a duty to understand that “who I am” is not some secret identity locked in the vault of my own skull, but a complicated network of relationships, many of them mysterious to my own subjectivity. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said something like “the self is not that part that is known only to me and to no one else, but precisely that part that is external and unknown to me, who I am to others.” I could write on this subject endlessly, but this is an art blog.

Anyway, this mush of Anglican theology and waaaaay too much structuralist criticism resulted in me not wanting to draw a traditional self-portrait or an auto-bio comic, but rather a series of still life drawings of the things around my room entitled “Portrait of the Artist When He Isn’t There” (PotAWHIT) Talk about the absent core of subjectivity! I think somebody snooping around my room when I wasn’t there could get a better idea of “who I am” just from looking at the books on my shelf, the drawings on my desk, and even the clothes on my hangers, than from briefly meeting me in person. I’ve left little pieces of my self strewn on the floor.