The Self Image as Sacred Object

The Face Book (2015) continues my exploration of immanent potential in work which directly references the selfie-image but converts it into a singular material and spiritual artefact that is both infinite and embodied.

The Face Book is a large, handmade book 29 x 21 x 7cms and bound in black leather with an gold buffed inside cover. 

This is very literally a book of faces, or rather a book of one face, my own, repeated over two-hundred and eighty-eight pages. 

Unlike the incessant, changing feed of the social media platform Facebook,[1] my work seeks to reference its own possibility and potential as a singular presence in its white void-like empty space.

The Face Book had five iterations. Earlier versions were smaller, some drawn on, some with gold-leaf and covers of acetate. 

The fifth version is large and its leather cover sits flat when open, revealing a wide spine of twenty-four individual sections stitched and glued together.  

It is a carefully handmade book, a ‘tome’ – that in its scale, weight and materiality references illuminated manuscripts of the medieval period. 

It is presented in the gallery space as a sacred but also vulnerable object – theatrically spot-lit on its own plinth and accompanied by white gloves to ensure careful handling. 

The pages of the book are open, offering an invitation to study and contemplate its contents.

The image of my face within the book is unadorned. My hair is cropped out; the pink tone of my skin on the white background gives my head and neck the appearance of a marble bust. 

With eyes shut this iPhone ‘selfie’ seems more repetitive, and inward looking than the ones we have become accustomed to. 

The light on my face and my relaxed facial muscles suggests a face that is meditating, or turned up to the sky, basking in the warmth of the sun.

The Face Book also draws on Aneta Grzeszykowska’s 'Selfie' series. Grzeszykowska manifests the disconnection of the face from its own experience and subjectivity, by representing it as a ‘marionette or a soulless character.’[2] 

By contrast, my selfie offers the surface of my face as an exterior connected to its interiority and for a moment, unconscious of  the cultural gaze. 

As the viewer is welcome to see and touch the faces on its paper pages, s/he can contemplate this complex relationship between, image, gaze and touch.


[1] Social media platform "What Is Facebook and What Does It Do?," Accessed 29/10/2016
[2] "Aneta Grzeszykowska." Accessed 21/9/2015