All the different versions of me

With old boyfriends, photos from 1999-2011
Since my [re]birthday earlier this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about who I used to be and all the different versions of me that I played like roles in my relationships, love affairs, at workplaces and in front of myself. I think I will create a collection of face masks, I want to explore this in my art as well as in this post.

Self-portrait, 2011

I don’t think I’ve fully understood until now, just how deeply we are influenced by other people’s visions of who they believe (or want) us to be. When we enter a new relationship, we also enter a new lifestyle – and a brand new self-image, mirrored through that lifestyle and the eyes of our lovers. We are upgraded in our latest understanding of love as well as our position in another person’s life. It’s a dangerous illusion of self-perception. We adjust our behavior to fit the perception. We feel like we are starting over. But are we? It’s been such hard work to redefine myself after the last break up, where I also broke up with everything I knew about myself and the world. It’s a different clean slate now than when I jumped directly from one toxic relationship into the next. It used to feel so new in the beginning of each relationship – but I was only numbing reality and adding more self-deception to myself. I wasn’t contemplating or allowing myself ask those important questions: “When I feel like I can be myself with this person – am I really being myself or am I being their perfect version of me?”, “Are we equals or am I submissive or in a strange position?”, “Is this really me or is this who I wish I could be?”
I have been so many things to my old boyfriends and lovers. I used to be someone’s punching bag, someone’s mirror, dog, nurse, child, sister, nanny, whore, therapist, life coach, piece of furniture, toy and muse.
Here is a collection of a few voice recordings which was part of an audio correspondence between me and a lover, a married man, in 2014. This is not who I am anymore – but it was who I once was. It fascinates me.
They were all versions of me, but at the same time, none of them were me, not really. It is fascinating. It reminds me of the “self-portraits” of Cindy Sherman. I love her work and the way she’s exploring themes like identity and self-perception. She’s both the photographer and the subject matter but they’re not self-portraits. Even though the collection of these false self-portraits creates the most true self-portrait ever made. Identity is so much more than who we are on the inside. The metaphysical sense of self and the physical body can both separate and reconnect – match each other or be like strangers to one another. We can feel close to ourselves or lost. Weak or strong. Adrift or grounded. Like a winner or a loser. There is duality and unification. Inadequacy and perfection. We can be all that, but never at the same time. We are colored by the choices we make, the people we let inside our hearts and minds – and by the way we mirror ourselves in other people and in different contexts. We can be many things to both ourselves and to other people, but our core stays intact and will never change – and we forget about that sometimes. When we are lost in life or in ourselves, the journey back to the core may be long and painful, but it leads to enlightenment and gratitude. It’s hard to get lost after that kind of awakening. It has totally changed my life and the way I allow other people to add to my shape (but never reshape me). A very few people are allowed to be an influence of how I look at myself now. My core and my own eyes have helped me redefine who I really am – to myself alone. The rest is not important. I will always be a thousand different versions of myself to other people but it doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. It’s like that quote; “What other people think of you is none of your business”.
Works by Cindy Sherman:
From my diary in 2013:
“I am a starving lioness, I’m the headwind that slows everything down, I’m a tree that’s growing, I am an actor moaning, dying on stage, I’m the sun, I am the light, I am the beast who could tear you apart, I’m the sleeping beauty, a dying swan, I’m a porn star under your mattress, I am the secret you forgot, I’m the freak, a fragment that doesn’t fit anywhere,  I’m trash, I’m a glass of water someone spilled, I am a worm, I am the apple, I am the death and the shadow on your back, I’m magic, the moon and the planet you sit on when you’re lost, I’m the machine, I’m yours, I’m mine, I’m here, I’m gone, I’m the camera on the wall filming myself, I’m the cat with a hundred eyes, I’m the hole, a monster, I’m Lolita, I’m the girl in mirror, its surface and the nail it hangs on, I am a sin, and the hair in your lasagna, I’m alone, I’m the fire and ashes in your computer, I’m the neighbor that looks like a box, I’m a ventriloquist, I am the price you won at some point, I’m under, I’m over, I’m the scent of a tear, I’m a cloud, fickle and fragile, I am a roaring volcano, I’m almost done, I am dissolved, I’m everything outside myself, I am a thought, I’m an astronaut, I am the memory of a blonde, I’m a burn, I’m an electrical shock, a button, I am life.”

4 thoughts on “All the different versions of me

  1. stevie says:

    i like the idea of you looking back at your different versions of yourself and as a artist a masquerade from then too now….. Stevie


  2. Todd from Kentucky says:

    Visually, I like the “black hole” people posed with the former Mia, but I guess that has been done fairly often. But I also think it might be interesting if you were to photoshop the Mia of today with a few of the former Mia’s just to see the transformation. Or, superimpose some of the “I am’s” from your diary in those old pictures of Mia . . . worm, cat with a hundred eyes, astronaut, volcano, etc. I see a lot of potential with the former Mia . . . be it art or therapy.


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