The painting installation “20 Days with Hair Towels (2008 – 2019)” shows a contemporary view of humanity with regard to the “selfie” era. The question “who we are” seems more important than ever. Fear and doubt about our existence have been playing a role for some time due to rapid technological developments; attacks and threats of war, and recently the corona crisis. Our view of humanity has partly been turned upside down. This existential crisis “who am I” is portrayed in a penetrating way because the many eyes of the self-portraits are focused on the viewer.
The work consists of 20 canvases measuring 100 x 70 cm, painted with oil on linen. The total installation is more than 4 meters high and 4 meters wide.
The basis for the work are the self-portraits in color from the visual diaries (LS diaries), in which the artist has just emerged from the shower with a towel “headdress” wrapped around her head, her skin slightly swollen and irregular from the warm water. Her eyes openly and directly engage the viewer.
The medium of oil paint is chosen because it creates a physical presence. Enhanced by the visibility of the canvas through the paint, the translucence of the thin layers mimics the tactility and fragility of human skin.
The photos were taken between 2008 and 2019 and show one face across a period of more than 10 years. The repetition flattens the chronology and emphasises the resilience of the soul. Together, the separate works form a strong and colorful whole and perhaps also refer to Pop Art with a wink.
The contemporary selfie is the presentation of a kind of mask for the purpose of gaining social currency. Leveraging ubiquitous technology, the selfie creator contructs a series of unserious masks, poses, costumes, and backdrops that identify the creator as a member of a style group. The image mirrors the group identity back to itself and positions the creator within the group.
Even portraying oneself as without makeup and dressed down, – being ‘real’ – has a false sense, couched as it is within a series of highly polished images. The individual is only understood as a series of personae, the inner life of which is neither relevant nor meaningful to the group identity.
The self-portraits of Lique Schoot strip away narrative and style to present a documentary record describing an almost purely biological entity that is universally recognizable as human, unique, and completely individual. The presentation of individual solitude challenges us to acknowledge and engage our own deepest self, our core consciousness no group identity can alter or erase.
Text: Richard Thompson, Lique Schoot
Translation: Richard Thompson
The painting installation ’20 Days with Hair Towels (2008 – 2019)’ is generously supported by the Mondriaan Fund with a Project Investment Artist.
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