Self-portrait with shattered mirror

There have been a number of self-portraits over the last thirty-five or forty years, which have marked periods and events in my life, and over the course of these many years the photographs have captured various stages of appearance and the state of my health. Mostly all but one were shot in a controlled environment, carefully setting a stage in my studio with a proper background and lighting, including an extra long cable release. However ‘Self-portrait with shattered mirror’ was unplanned and completely spontaneous.

I had been on another one of my photographic excursions, documenting empty structures that were surrounded by a new residential and part business redevelopment on a former company owned community referred to as The Hercules Dynamite Factory. The majority of the former homes and other structures were boarded up, but in some cases, concealed openings could be discovered that teenagers had created looking for adventure and excitement.

Self-portrait with shattered mirror
Ladies Room — Hercules, California, May 22, 2005
Digital duo-tone

Through one of these openings I had entered and explored for the past hour or so, a number of smaller rooms that were adjacent to the ballroom and dining hall, all of which looked as though it dated back to the early 1940’s. I had closed my eyes, pretended to hear the Andrews Sisters singing and stomping their feet to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B or Rum or Coca Cola, with walls reverberating the energy of the band and the sound of a clarinet. Yet all that could now be heard was a deadening silence interrupted by an occasional vehicle passing by.

I continued photographing, focusing at times on areas of the building that could tell a visual story of a child being physical and mental abused and that which it had suffered be reflected in the remains of these interiors, when I came upon the ladies room and a shattered mirror.

From a technical standpoint this is not my best work, when viewed from the esthetics and especially what it represents personally, the photograph captured the essence of a childhood lost through the eyes of an adult.


Kathy said...

This is a gripping portrait with a very poignant meaning. I'm especially drawn to the contrast of the acute angles created by the shattered mirror and your left arm in an arc over your rounded head as if to hold it together against the shattering forces. This is a memorable portrait!

La Dolce Vita said...

this is such an amazing self portrait! art is so subjective. I see the current state of confusion about your direction and all the compartmentalized pieces that make up your varied interests...
I could put my own face there in the mirror and it would be so apropos.
thank you, Egmont!

Leslie Avon Miller said...

This is a great story on so many levels. Capturing the essence is the real *art*.

Michael Nikolaou said...

Art does not have to be deliberate. Capturing this accidental moment in front of a broken mirror created a wonderful image, interesting to look at and thought-provoking at the same time. After all, isn't inspiration random as well?

Ian Foster said...

Egmont, I first saw this self portrait several years ago and I still find it as powerful now as the first time. It is particularly appropriate when coupled with your narrative. Excellent work and an opportunity recognised and seized upon.

layers said...

Perhaps freeing up from the technical aspects and going with a spontaneous reaction to the shattered glass mirror-- ended up with a more powerful meaningful photograph.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

This is a powerful photograph. I am especially taken by the right hand separated from the arm...the point of the shattered mirror to the side of your image as a glancing blow. Yes, art captures unexpected telling images without planned direction.

Kathy said...

And ... a Happy Thanksgiving to you, Egmont! I hope you enjoy good food and loving friends and family over the holiday.

jeannette stgermain said...

This is an intense photo, Egmont. I just read part of your history below, and makes this photo less forboding. Interestingly I've made a watercolor on the same subject.

Seth said...

A strong and powerful image for sure!

gunsan said...

Have seen it before, and still love it!

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Joy Logan said...

WOW fabulous piece this self all your collages too!

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