Scratching the Surface: Self-portraits and self-representations

Doctorate other than PhD

Abrahams, Chris. 2022. Scratching the Surface: Self-portraits and self-representations. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Creative Arts. University of Southern Queensland.

Scratching the Surface: Self-portraits and self-representations

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
AuthorAbrahams, Chris
1. FirstA/Pr Janet McDonald
2. SecondA/Pr Kyle Jenkins
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Creative Arts
Number of Pages125
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

The purpose of this exegesis research paper is to locate my art practice as a new form 'body art' within the field of self-portraiture in contemporary art in Australia. This practice-led research enquiry will ask the following question: how can the body be employed as a tool to create a portrait of self to create growth and transformation? Traditionally, self-portraits are constructed with a mirror in a frontal, vertical manner on an easel. However, in this study I am using vertical and horizontal orientation using the body to purely make marks not to create realistic self-portraits of my face and head. Through employing the body to make a representation, I am using various methods and engaging with various tools, techniques, and materials across a variety of different mediums to find new knowledge. I am using drawing, painting (oil and acrylic), printmaking (etching, lino block printing, monoprinting), and ceramics. Central to this enquiry, is the development of my method of artmaking, what I call Reflective Phenomenology. This is a combination of reflexivity (Pierce, 1868 as cited in Archer, 2013) and Merleau-Ponty's (1968) phenomenology. I am incorporating reflexive activities, where inner dialogues and reflections on the process is recorded and serve to document my way of working. I am using this method of gathering data for my findings. The inner dialogue, questioning, answering and self-talk leads not only to new actions but growth and transformation. I am engaging phenomenologically with my body, interacting with other bodies, surfaces and tools performed in the studio as a way of representing self. I am calling this body art because the presence of the artist body and the actions performed by the body is the focus of my work (Marsh, 1993). My approach is informed by an embodied, phenomenological model of ii intersubjectivity (Jones, 1997) between my body as the subject and object in self-portraiture which I call body art. In body art, there is a blurring of live art and performance boundaries where I am simultaneously the subject and object (Sobchack, 2004). My body art performance that is recorded and made in the studio, where the body performs my practice and presented to an audience later in the form of artworks. The body not only leaves its trace, but I am communicating how the body feels in place and time, to contribute to the field of self-portraiture using the body-as-self. In concluding, this research locates my art practice as 'body art', as a subject field within the field of self-portraiture more broadly and identifies a gap in contemporary art in Australia. This exegesis further develops research on 'body-as-self' which is argued as a new academic concern.

KeywordsSelf-Portraiture, Self-representation, Reflexive phenomenology, body-art
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020360699. Visual arts not elsewhere classified
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Creative Arts
Permalink -

Download files

Published Version
Christopher Abrahams - Thesis_Redacted.pdf
License: CC BY 4.0
File access level: Anyone

  • 100
    total views
  • 103
    total downloads
  • 5
    views this month
  • 7
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Storytelling, the scale of persuasion and retention: A neuromarketing approach
Hamelin, Nicolas, Thaichon, Park, Abrahams, Christopher, Driver, Nicholas, Lipscombe, Joe and Pillai, Jayarethanam. 2020. "Storytelling, the scale of persuasion and retention: A neuromarketing approach." Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services. 55.