Still life (Technologies of the self, Antígona)
Needles, 6 m silver thread, mirror and skin. Variable dimensions.
«Man is only a recent invention [...] an effective device with a very long and complex historical process.» (Michel Foucault, 2000: 42).
The series ‘Technologies of the self’ is made up of different pieces around the figure of Foucauldian self from Technologies of the self (1982); at all times we must bear in mind that this "I" translates to "self" or "soi"; that this "I" is not the subject but that subject’s internal interlocutor: that is “oneself”. Therefore, we’ve decided to keep the series title in its original language. These technologies, in Foucault's words, are characterised as «those techniques that permit individuals to effect, by their own means, a certain number of operations on their own bodies, their own souls, their own thoughts, their own conduct, and this in a manner so as to transform themselves, modify themselves, and to attain a certain state of perfection, happiness, purity, supernatural power, etc.» (Foucault, 2000: 35).
It is in self-portrait form, of this "oneself", where we try to discover the selfhood of the self in a dialectical movement of the self-reflexive, in two ways: auto means "the self", but also the notion of identity. Selfhood is the ability of the self to exhibit, to display, its own possibilities: it occurs only on the surface.
Experience is a contemporary origin, a form of retrospection. An experience starts with the appearance of a thing (das Ding) and with the first movement towards it.
Returning to the I is to 'be-one-self". And even so, this return does not make the I closer than before: oneself is the closest proximity. Not only proximity is revealed here as impossible, but also selfhood, if it were a matter of persisting in this one-of-a-kind proximity, of adhering to it, it would be unbearable. Within this untenable proximity, only a movement towards the self -which takes it to the past- serves as return: the staging of return, where there was no minor distance.
Therefore, retrospection (from lat. retrospicĕre, looking back) is, indeed, active; a gesture that makes the I go back in time, to decipher oneself. What part of oneself should one renounce? What must one know about oneself in order to be willing to renounce anything?
The permitted and forbidden operations in the game of selfhood, when discovering oneself in mise à nu, gazing at oneself in a similar object, in the mirror: represented feelings, thoughts, any desire that could be experienced, impulses that lead us to search inside oneself for any hidden feeling, any movement of the will, any desire disguised under illusory forms. This is the only possible selfhood, since only by distancing from the I, it can be given a voice.