The Otherness of Self

The Otherness Of Self by Kailum GravesFuck kale. Fuck yoga. Fuck bamboo cotton. Fuck vegetable smoothies. Fuck slim legs. Fuck organic. Fuck quinoa beet salad. Fuck berries. Fuck alternative. Fuck cold-pressed juice.  Fuck airport selfies. Fuck summer. Fuck leafy greens. Fuck detox. Fuck athletic. Fuck the inherent bullshit of palatable capitalism disguised as wellness on Instagram.

The Otherness of Self
2014–ongoing (printed in 2016)
450 digital c-type prints
Each 10.16cm x 10.16cm, overall dimensions 304.8cm x 152.4cm

Mirrors for sale on Gumtree—the images form part of a larger project to preserve and curate Gumtree classifieds.

Photography isn’t a tool to document and record reality; it’s a means to manipulate it. Nonetheless, these accidental self-portraits seem to capture the nuances of human existence—the absurdities, the ironies, and the small dramas of contemporary life—overlooked by the deliberately flattering selfie, or constructed photojournalistic image. They lack the technical expertise of traditional or mainstream art; yet, they capture a vulnerability that’s almost impossible to recreate. This has been achieved both consciously and by mistake. Appropriation is never truly random, it invariably requires some selection and presentation by the artist; however, the self-portraits themselves are a happy accident—taken to sell a mirror. This accident does away with the idea of a trained and self-aware self-portrait (selfie) photographer, and perhaps even the idea of a trained or self-aware artist. Printed in the square format of Instagram, the work was inspired by Penelope Umbrico’s For Sale/TVs From Craigslist series and Walker Evans’ Subway Portraits.


“We have chosen to give a special mention to the artist Kailum Graves with his work The Otherness of Self because he has been able to embody the spirit of the times, amplifying the danger of the social media trap that has caged humanity in a silent psychological wall. The subjects immortalized in the polaroids, presented in collages, become passive protagonists of a mocking narration particularly experienced and felt by the public.”

Judges Notes, 16th Edition of the ARTE LAGUNA PRIZE
Kobi Ben-Meir, Chief Curator of Haifa Museum of Art
Louise Fedotov-Clements, Artistic Director, Quad & Director, Format International Photography Festival
Pasquale Lettieri, Curator, Critic, Historian, Academic and Journalist
Alka Pande, Consultant Arts Advisor and Curator, Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre in New Delhi
Danilo Premoli, Architect, Designer, Artist
Alisa Prudnikova, Founder, Commissioner and Artistic Director of The Ural Industrial Biennial

Detailed view: