ARTIST SERIES

Chuck Samuels writes:

“With The Photographer, I am moving ever closer to the source of photography: the photographer him or herself. By shifting my gaze to the manner in which photographers have represented themselves, I will plunge deeper into the history of photography and, in my irreverently reverent style, attempt to situate and question my place within that history.

“From the beginning of my interest in photography I was captivated by self-portraits of the photographers whose work I admired. Some of these self-portraits were epic or heroic, others were sensitive, several were playful even occasionally self-deprecating but I always sensed the artist attempting to insert their very image into the canon of photography. Was this rare glimpse of the artist an extension of their work (did they apply their signature photographic approach to themselves)? Was it honest? Was it truthful? Was it self-aggrandizing? Was it entirely fictional? What did it mean then and what does it mean now?

“For the purposes of The Photographer, I have been studying the archive of photographic self-portraiture, in particular the self-portraits by famous photographers that touched me early in the formative years of my career. While it is true that all self-portraits have at least an element of performance in them, I will select more or less classic images in which one feels the artist is trying to create a ‘true’ or ‘honest’ portrayal of themselves—images that seek to legitimize themselves through the assumed veracity of the photograph.

“For this project I have completed the study, selection and scanning of a number of iconic self-portraits by famous photographers such as Man Ray, Imogen Cunningham, Weegee, Ralph Gibson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Margaret Bourke-White, Joel-Peter Witkin, Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon and others. I have insinuated myself into these iconic images; my constant presence serving as a kind of leveling device. Freed from the individualism of the image, the viewer is invited to reflect upon the practice of self-portraiture and, by extension, on photography itself.”

Chuck Samuels would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and Centre de production DAÏMÕN for their support in the research and production of the photographs in the series The Photographer.

Work by Chuck Samuels