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Self Portrait

Date 1977
Location Central African Republic
Dimensions Image: 18 3/8 x 18 3/8 in. (46.7 x 46.7 cm)
Paper: 23 3/4 x 19 7/8 in. (60.3 x 50.5 cm)
Print medium Photo-Gelatin silver

Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection
Section: Self-portraiture
Born in Cameroon, Samuel Fosso spent most of his childhood in Nigeria among his people, the Igbo. Fleeing persecution caused by the Biafran War (1967–70), he sought refuge in Bangui, Central African Republic, where, at thirteen, he opened his own photo studio. Initially, Fosso began experimenting with self-portraiture to make pictures to send to his grandmother in Nigeria. These expressive images make reference to popular West African culture—musicians, the latest youth fashions (including Western clothes like bellbottoms and tight shirts), and political advertising—constituting a sustained and unprecedented photographic project that explores sexuality, gender, and self-representation. Unlike many of his other self-portraits, here Fosso shows us the edges of the backdrop and the studio’s lights. These details call attention to the always-perfomative nature of portrait photography.

Credit line

Purchase, with funds provided by the ICP Aquisitions Committee, 2004

Feedback Accession No. 19.2004