Skimming through this issue, a couple of things might have become appartent to you. The biggest question you may have noticed us grappling with is what, in fact, is a portrait, and maybe even more importantly, what constitutes a good portrait, and why? As you continue to browse, you might come to multiple, various conclusions. Each one of these will be an important part of you journey back to this central question; you might find yourself becoming increasingly interested in the way you, the reader, and the people featured in this magazine are trying to relate to this theme of the portrait. Coming back to this question will put you in the same state of mind that we were while brainstorming for this issue.
What constitutes a portrait? The current, most direct way to create one is to take out your phone and take a selfie, a sign of the times once reserved for artists who took the time to recreate their own likeness using more analog forms of art production. Our portraiture inquiries were broad in the early phases of creating this issue: we wondered about objects, whether an object could be a portrait of a person. Could a bed, a MacBook, or an internet browser’s history also constitute a portrait? One could argue, in a sense, that more could be said about a person’s character by scrolling through the chronicle of websites they’ve visited than looking at the way he or she renders his or herself via self-portraiture.
Another important question we tossed around is how can a group portrait be made, something we, as the magazine’s stuff, tried to do. What if we were to hire a detective to follow our interview subjects around for a day? Would that work? Could someone else portray you, or would that create a portrait of you both, in tandem, the portrayer and the portrayed, simultaneously, together, in one piece? All roads seem to lead back to Rome, but that doesn’t mean everybody in Rome took the same route. And that is what we wanted to discover as we brainstormed our way to this article. Five people all received one and the same assignment: Create a portrait in your own way, think about the question, yourself and the medium of photography and create something, whether it be an answer or a reflection on the question.
by Roland Hoogwater