Twenty years ago today, when I was a graduate student, I started a durational performance by taking a daily self-portrait with my new (and then revolutionary) digital camera. The project began as a month-long meditation, which quickly got expanded to a year. And then another year. And here we are two decades later.
I started the project because my graduate program was pretty much anti-painting, and at every turn I was encouraged to work with contemporary media. In retrospect, I probably should have dropped out of the program and found another program that encouraged me as a painter. But I fell for the investment fallacy and soldiered on. This project allowed me to continue with ‘picture making’ as a form of performance. It also was a means of investigating identity in the context of adoption — inviting me to see my ‘reflected gesture’ in the only way then accessible to me.
I started the project before the advent of ‘the selfie’ — although I’m hardly the first artist to undertake such a project. I continue it out of habit, but also as an anchor to daily practice. And, I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that it’s become a form of visual journaling that allows me to reflect on the ups and downs of my life. Of course, in that way, it’s a meditation on aging, too. Unbeknownst to me when I started, it’s also probably the thing that invited me into the process of becoming a photographer.
Ten years ago I wrote about the project in a different way, and in greater detail. That reflection adheres to the manners of graduate school. Today’s more sober reflection is probably a bit more honest.
Here are the twenty-one photos from 27 September 2001-2021.