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Illustration by Michelle Wong

Me, Myself and I: gal-dem’s self-portrait series looks at the possibilities of creating art alone

We're kicking off a week-long celebration of photography by zoning in on artists who have ultimate agency over their image.

08 Jun 2020

Even though the lockdown seems to be crumbling worldwide as people swap self-isolation for tempestuous collective action, the last few months have still been characterised by solitude. So this felt like the perfect time to examine what each of us are individually capable of. 

We’re kicking off Me, Myself and I, a week-long celebration of artists who are their own muse. In these ~strange and unprecedented times~ we’ve become painfully self-aware, forced to find solace in being more alone than we’ve maybe ever been before. But on the other hand, as we spend more time reflecting each of us has found new ways to express our emotions. Some reacted by trying to carve a new version of themselves they were happy to live with: one that bakes bread and knows how to do box braid. Or can do the ‘Savage’ Tik Tok dance from start to finish without fucking up. When the only tool we have at our disposal is ourselves, we have to get creative.

Being alone doesn’t have to be limiting, as per the gospel of Beyoncé in the titular track that shares a name with this series. We’ll be zoning in on self-portrait photographers like Glenda Lisette, Izumi Miyazaki, Atong Atem and Kimberly Douglas. Each of them have developed a unique practice, using their bodies and faces as a canvas, creating characters, and using props and tech to make evocative work. 

As well as profiling a selection of on-the-rise photographers, we’ll journey deeper into the medium via analysis of works by women and non-binary people who have blazed the trail, explore the power of having agency of your own image as a woman of colour, and aim to inspire you with guides to do it yourself. With so much pain in the world it is important to allow yourself to look at something beautiful, be reminded of our talents and get inspired.

Remember to keep your eyes peeled on how to get involved. Here’s what we’ve published so far:

Portrait of a lady on fyah: how come selfies are narcissistic but self-portraits are highbrow?

A selfie of Leah Cowan, gal-dem's Politics editor

Glenda Lissette’s technicolour portraits bring her dreams and insecurities to life

Me, Myself and I

How four women and non-binary people of colour used self-portraits as a vehicle for rebellion

Kawaii meets gore in Izumi Miyazaki’s surrealist fantasies

How to shoot your own thirst traps

Photographer Kimberly Douglas isn’t waiting on the industry to give her the cover star treatment

Australian photographer Atong Atem feels more at home in a sci-fi future than a colonial present

A striking self portrait of Atong Atem

Watch: How to take a bad bitch selfie

Send us your own selfies, tagging @galdemzine and using the #MeMyselfandI hashtag, and we’ll publish our favourites. Here South-African artist Lunga Ntila gives you a visual guide to recreate her style, and you don’t even need photoshop.