MIRROR MIRROR BY RYAN MCGINLEY words Filipe Phitzgerard - images courtesy of publisher and artist
Youth documentary photographer Ryan McGinley unveils his latest book enterprise with 'Mirror Mirror' a compound of raw and striking images exploring the concept of selfies with a unique nod only McGinley could do. It is no secret that this is the age of selfie and since its invention sometime during the rise of the Millennials selfies have become the ruling mode of self-representation and creating an unprecedented turn on how humans perceive and display themselves.
Selfies are a way to be 'seen' and 'noticed' by the world out there in a way that is meticulously controlled by the subject whom in this case is also the one capturing the image. It has been used for years now to showcase oneself the way they want to be perceived, creating an illusion of an identity that is most of the time just not real or entirely truthful. In his new book, Mirror Mirror, published by Rizzoli, the New York artist and photographer, whose work capturing real youth has become iconic in our times, explores this uncharted world of selfies and the illusion of a perfect image. With the creation of Instagram and other social media platforms, came along the hundreds of quick retouching and editing apps, providing the consumer and user the perfect tools to edit and touch-up their selfies, and in many many cases, adding another layer of unreal perfection to the world to see.
'Mirror Mirror' follows on from McGinley's most recent exhibition of the same name at the Team Gallery in New York City and presents over one hundred naked self-portraits selfie style of family members and friends of the artist. They are all positioned in front of mirrors, posing naked and showing their very true selves. Using an analog camera, the photography mode which McGinley is recognised for, these group of seemingly random people capture their own selves without the ability to edit or retouch anything, and as they snap photos of themselves, they are struck with the real image of who they are and look like. This is a bold and unashamed exploration of oneself, looking at their form, bodies, and imperfections that make them real.
Ryan McGinley has become a symbol of lively corporeal photography, where the rawness of his approach only elevates the image of his subjects. In 'Mirror Mirror', Ryan studies the vulnerability of the naked body and the self and pushes the boundaries further by inverting the places usually filled by photographer and subject. He hands the analog camera - a Yashica T4, which is a 35mm point-and-shoot camera - to his subjects and takes a step back, letting his subjects capture themselves, yet, Ryan is the one powerful and precise voice directing their very movements and leading them in how to work with lights and shadows - technicalities only a professional photographer would know how to control. The dynamics have been changed and yet, McGinley does not entirely take over the control of what is being created, instead, by giving his subjects instructions on how to work with their mirrors and props he still allows them to be their own selves, and by doing so, allowing them to capture what they consciously perceive and subconsciously wish to see.
“Ryan McGinley: Mirror Mirror” published Rizzoli is out now and available for purchase.