BARBARA ASTMAN "SELF-PORTRAIT" POLAROID, 1978
Barbara Astman (b. 1950) is a celebrated contemporary Canadian artist, best known for her innovative work using photography and its many utilitarian offshoots such as scanners and photocopiers to mention a few.
Astman is acclaimed for her pioneering multi-media approach, blending analog and digital techniques with materials or technology not typically used in the creation of fine art. In her work she addresses the intersection of identity, feminism, technology, consumerism, and media influence.
The artist's oeuvre is characterized by narrative presentations, offered via everyday objects and settings in order to share her experiences and memories. This approach enables Astman to transcend the material nature of the objects/materials, imbuing them with layers of meaning.
In the early 1970s, Astman came to photography by chance when she borrowed a camera to document a sculpture. Astman took self-portraits with the leftover film, capturing intimate moments realized in her studio.
Years later, the Polaroid became a foundational tool in her work. She purchased her first Polaroid in 1978, and embraced it wholeheartedly going forward. Its instantaneous nature enabled Astman to access her inner world, often depicting herself organically in an act of self-discovery. Astman is one of several photographers, like Nan Goldin, who turned the camera on themselves (and their circle) during the 1970's.
This work is a paradigm of Astman's practice from the late 70s where she created Polaroid grids of her contemporaries and added text to the margins, and sometimes surfaces of the images.
Here a traditional typewriter both embosses and prints self-descriptive text enlivening the portraits it surrounds. The interplay of text and image raises the question of the spectator's role in defining Astman's assumed identity - an intriguing consideration, especially years later, at the height of social media engagement.
Astman is a well-known and accomplished professor in Canada. She joined the faculty of OCAD in 1975 and retired as Professor Emerita in 2021. Her work is featured in prominent collections across the globe, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery (Ottawa), the Bibliotheque Nationale (Paris, France), and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, England).
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"Untitled" (aka "Self-Portrait")
Six Polaroids with typed inscription
Mounted on paper
Signed and dated on Verso
7.75"H 10.5"W (work)
11"H 13.5"W (framed)
Very good condition
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