Click here to watch my latest video piece, Portrait of a Superego.
Portrait of a Superego is an experimental film short that uses formal elements of abstraction and fractured images to explore the underlying nature of the typecast female “superego” – a term for the element of the psyche that regulates the self’s appearance in the moral and social structure of the external world. The concept of the superego derived from Sigmund Freud’s controversial model of the psychic apparatus, and is also thought to be the precedent for the psychodynamic concept of the “inner critic” that is masochistic in nature, censoring and demeaning the image of self.
Portrait of a Superego embodies this element of Freud’s structural psychoanalysis by entirely removing any realistic expectations of time, identity, and space, in an attempt to universalize the idea of the female facade. It is layered in its implications of masking, both through the symbolic use of makeup application on the female form and through the disjointed nature of the visual strips. By creating a paradigm of denying completeness to both the viewer and the implied figure on screen, the moving image assumes the masochistic nature of the superego, using the face as the prototypical facade of the self. It achieves such denial not only formally through the visual fracturing of the figure, but through the resistance of any noticeable aesthetic change to the face, despite the actions of applying makeup in attempt to beautify; and through the pseudo-narrative arc that follows the application and inevitable removal of the makeup as a gesture of the cyclical rejection of the female’s attempts to mask. Portrait of a Superego draws both formal and conceptual elements from artist Shirin Neshat’s still photography work that focus on altered self-portrait imagery to convey feminist rebellion.
Ultimately, Portrait of a Superego is a reflection of my progressive interests in both the medium of moving image art — the highly formalist and figurative capacities of the media — and in my artistic practice in general. It addresses the psychological implications that I consider in both self-evaluation and perceptual sciences, but it also addresses issues of feminism by way of deconstructing the female facade. The piece attempts to create the tension in the viewer experience that I intend to achieve in most of my work: the tension between intimacy and rejection or denial, both within the piece and in the viewer’s relationship to the piece.