Self Portrait in Place was a self portrait that mingled on-site and digital elements. In May 2021, the work was scattered within a kilometer of the apartment where I lived in Paris’ Montmartre quarter from June 2020 to June 2021 during the COVID pandemic, while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The version I am submitting is an online version of that walking portrait.
Visitors received a map with twelve sites they could chose to visit in any order. Viewable, palpable, on-site materials were enlivened by slides shows, videos and audio recordings accessible on a cell phone. Participants were invited to make their own recordings and notes about the bits and pieces that made up the scattered portrait.
This self portrait literally mingled its subject (me) with the landscape. frame/calendar of the quarter. Working within the confines of a year, a place and my biography the artwork led me to contemplating questions of “presentiel” (face to face) and “distanciel” (digital or remote), time and visibility, surveillance, and the body-self in motion.
The work is part of a larger project, Scattered Subjects, that reflects on processes of subject formation and framing. https://www.scatteredsubjects.com
Susan Ossman is an artist and anthropologist. She is known for her scholarship and visual art on topics of media, migration, gender and social theory. Her art has been exhibited and performed across Europe and North America. Her recent book is Shifting Worlds, Shaping Fieldwork, a Memoir of Anthropology and Art. (Routledge 2021).
In addition to individual work, Ossman creates collaborative programs, notably The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop, an mobile, international art/scholarship collective on migration. Ossman has received grants from the US National Endowment for the Arts, The CNRS (France), the British Academy, and Fulbright, and a Guggenheim fellowship. She has held research positions in Morocco, France, the UK and the USA, and is presently distinguished professor of anthropology at UC Riverside.