Looking Forward to Meeting Me is a project by Visvaldas Morkevičius. For the project presentation, the artists tapped into various media – photography, sculpture and installation – to conceive the new body of work and expand beyond traditional photography means.
The defining term of the project is autoportrait, as an artistic genre and as an activity of self-scrutiny, active practice of self-awareness. Some photographic images included in the project appear blatantly figurative and representational, other photographs drift towards abstraction as the photographed subject is hardly recognizable. The varying of subjects and intentional breaks within the linearity propose not a meticulously realistic representation but a subtly distorted, tampered reflection, constructed through art history symbols, tropes borrowed from classical mythology, psychoanalytic interpretations and personal memories.
The title of the project, Looking Forward to Meeting Me, projects a moment in the future, an encounter in coming with oneself. The making of an autoportrait serves as one of the archetypes for such an encounter: the artist, either in front of a mirror or in front of a camera lens, undertakes the task of self-representation, translating his/her self-concept to a visual language. While the collection of works that the project amasses includes one self-portrait by Morkevičius, the photograph remains almost imperceptible as it is framed underneath a stained glass pane.
The autoportrait practice of self-analysis is complemented by other seemingly similar self-projection exercises coming from beyond the artistic realm: childhood memories, dreaming of oneself and psychoanalysis. Some images suggest repressed emotions (the spring of water underneath lumps of rock, or a deformed exploded light bulb), some bear vague erotic elements (nudes photographed in lack of light or overexposure), others hint to hazy memory images, again erasing the traits of identification by applying monochrome colour overlay on the photographed faces. The aforementioned movement between the figurative and the abstract echoes the struggle with oneself and self-understanding as a continuous process of simultaneous emphasis and concealment.
Finally, the artist turned to the myth of Echo and Narcissus from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In the classical interpretation, Narcissus dies while hypnotically gazing at his own reflection in the water. The character of Narcissus has become an epitome for someone who is overly self-preoccupied and is in love with oneself. The works do not include direct references or visual representation of the myth, rather the project as the whole seeks to provide this reflective surface on which one may encounter himself/herself. At the same time, the re-reading of Ovid’s passage also suggests an alternative view on Narcissus’ story: perhaps the fragile auto-portrait as idealized and externalized representation was lethal for Narcissus, and the way out of blind gazing into our temporal projections may be found in earnest self-awareness and appreciation?