Commodity-Self Portrait Project



MATERIALS:  Any/Mixed Media+ Styrofoam head

DUE:  __TBA__  Bring artwork to class; Post a 1-2 page single-spaced essay with picture of artwork on the “Artivities and Projects” Page of your wordpress site;  Bring a hardcopy of essay to class.

REQUIRED:  Creativity, Imagination, Effort, Analytical Skills (The sky is the limit— you can do whatever you want with your head, using any materials or style you wish—but you will need to explain all of your choices and intentions)


Drawing inspiration from the concepts of a commodity self and gender performativity (see definitions below), create a Self-Portrait using your styrofoam head and any materials you wish.

Write a one-page essay as a companion piece to the artwork you created – Discuss what your portrait says about you, its meanings, your analytical and creative process, media and methods.  In the course of your essay, be sure to explain your commodity self and some of the various ways in which you “do gender.”

Commodity Self:  a term, coined by Stewart Ewan, that refers to how we construct our identities, at least in part, through the consumer products that inhabit our lives.  The concept of a commodity self implies that our selves, if not our subjectivities, are mediated and constructed in part through our identification with commodity signs—the meanings that we attach to consumer products that we intentionally acquire though their purchase and use.  (Practices of Looking, p 435)

Gender Performativity:  According to Judith Butler, gender is not an expression of an innate self, but rather gender is instituted through “a stylized repetition of acts through time.”  Gender is not something one is, but something one does.  “The ‘reality’ of gender is constituted by the performance itself”; It is a “corporeal style, an ‘act’ as it were” (Butler, FVC #54).   Gender is instituted through reiterative stylizations of the body and habitual performative acts.  Watch:

To help get you started, read below:

How to Make a Self-Portrait (excerpted from  Self Portrait UK 14-19)What will your self-portrait say about you?
Making a self-portrait is a great way to express and explore your identity. It’s not about what your parents, friends, teachers, brothers or sisters think you should be. It’s about who you think you are.Ideas to get you started:Think of the things that make you what you are:

  • the clothes you wear and the way you look
  • the music you listen to and the music you make
  • the words you write and the images you create
  • what you’ve been through and how you feel now
  • where you live and where you belong
  • the things you love and the things you hate
  • your passions, politics and beliefs
  • your family and friends
  • the things that make you laugh and the things that make you cry
  • the places you like and the places you fear
  • the people you admire and the people you trust
  • the messages you write and the messages you receive

You might think that your bedroom, your clothes, your diary or even some of your favorite objects, photographs or documents say more about you than any mirror image could describe.


One Response to Commodity-Self Portrait Project

  1. Pingback: For Thurs., 2/25 and Tues., 3/1 | F E M I N I S T A R T P O W E R

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