Unsettled Self (2020) is my MFA Thesis exhibition that took place at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery in Calgary Alberta. There are 12 figurative self-portraits in the installation that explore the human condition. I often like to look at my work with the framework of the monument and satire. Monuments have a long history commemorating and memorializing people, events, and places. Embedded in monuments are values, world views and ideas that people in the past wanted to carry into the future. In these strange times, we see tensions between monuments and changing societies. Through the vantage point of the monument I saw the opportunity to be critical of these values, world views and ideas held by people but manifested in monuments. Taking a step back, critical of my own motives, philosophy, experience ,and argumentation, I decided to align the smoke and mirrors towards me and attempt to unsettle myself. On this journey I brought to bare a quiet self-deprecating humor and a cartoon-caricature sensibility. I decided to use the iconoclastic gesture of dismembering, distorting and humiliating a monument to puncture the power I wield and ask questions about some of my group affiliations or social locations. Through the frame of satire, by turning monuments of the self into caricatures, I lower defenses, attempt to model a sensible introspective dialogue and ask questions about our individual and collective identities.
Photos and video taken by Chelsea Yang Smith