self-portraits | contemplating the brain

[2016] Artists have always created self-portraits. Whatever their motivation (as a showcase for their talents, a political statement or a conscious projection of their best self), the result is always the same: the creator becomes the subject, and the artist become the sitter. Many artists have subsequently created self-portraits by omitting the most recognisable part of their bodies: their face, and have instead explored their ‘self’ in more conceptual ways. But how truthful are these representations of self? And does it even matter?

In this film, art critic and author Laura Cumming; artist Angela Palmer; and forensic anthropologist Caroline Wilkinson, discuss the notion of truth in self-portraiture, with particular reference to two pretty unconventional self-portraits: both of which depict the artist’s brain.

Filmed and edited by Daniel Warren.

Produced by Becky Manson for the National Galleries of Scotland.