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In a previous life I considered Henri Cartier-Bresson the measure of all things in photography; but the idea of a “decisive moment”, increasingly, leaves me unconvinced, not to say uncomfortable. This composite portrait, shot at various points while preparing for a day in the public school system, explores a different kind of approach: I captured moments where nothing was happening, but with the assumption that possibly “something” happened in between the frames that might have left traces on the face of the subject. Specifically, this image draws a portrait of a person through glimpses of a process of preparing to move from the private sphere (captured right from wake-up time) to the public one (with an exposure right before passing the door of the house).

If the world is a stage, it may be that the public face is more of a mask than the private one, which in turn might be taken to be more “authentic”. But there is no guarantee that one exposure renders the person more truly than the others—in the same way that Monet could paint the Rouen Cathedral at various times of the day and no single image could claim to be “the” image of the Cathedral. The technical setup allows us to consider these various shades of the Self on a common backdrop, in an illusory synchrony, not so much an “imaginary museum” as an imaginary panopticon where moments of the Self can be assigned, observed, and compared. Surely it is the same person enduring through time, isn’t it? Or is permanence just a convenient way to sail throught the infinite kaleidoscope of identities covered by that most “public thing” (res publica) we produce: our face? By making exposures at various points in the preparation to move from private to public spheres, I have tried here to capture a spectrum of faces that collectively constitute a portrait of myself on that particular morning—all while creating a repository of sorts for the questions they raise.

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