Selfie: Image Narrative Opiate (self-disclosure and the graphic novel)

Adrian Martin, Annabel Meehan, Brenda Ludeman, Carl Kuddell, Catherine Bell, Darren Pryce, Deborah Kelly, Elizabeth Pulie, Elliott Bryce Foulkes, Francesca da Rimini, George Alexander, Helen Grace, Iakovos Amperidis, Ian Milliss, Jennifer Lyons-Reid, Jess Johnson, Jim Tsinganos, Keg de Souza, Katie Parrish Gandrabur, Leon Cmielewski, Leon Marvell, Linda Marie Walker, Liza Lakusa, Mishka Borowski, Nick Strike, Philipa Veitch, Richard Gurney, Ron Adams, Safdar Ahmed, Salote Tawale, Simon Yates, Susan Danta

cartoon fabulist/ industrial avatars/ solipsistic assassin/ prefixal self/ climax narrator/ autobiographic excision/ sequential confessions/ auxiliary conceit/ tendered speech/ authenticity prefect/ balloon renditions

Cartoons in which text and image are paired have a long history in social commentary, revolutionary politics, satire and entertainment. Hogarth’s series of engravings, A Harlot’s Progress and A Rake’s Progress are regarded as some of the first sequential images, a form which has led itself to many manifestations including film storyboards, superhero comics and the graphic novel. Comics share many formal conventions with film – including long shots, closeups, zooms and pans – which have furthered narrative and documentary aims. The graphic novel’s form is also conducive to self-expression. Speech is indicated through the convention of the speech balloon while internal dialogue is depicted with thought bubbles. Robert Crumb combined satire with sex, psychedelia and self through his comics in the 1960s. Later touchstones in the field – Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis demonstrated the autobiographical potential of the form.

Self-disclosure is often regarded with skepticism. While the stance of an objective position has been thoroughly debunked in theory, it continues to influence critical reception of cultural work. Works about the self are often assigned a lesser or degraded status in literature and art, aligned with confessional hobbyists, reality TV and misery memoirs. As the currency of social media, self-disclosure through the many forms of the selfie, is both derided and celebrated. Simultaneously self-examination has also been a political rallying point for gender, sexuality, class and minority politics in the cry, ‘The personal is political.’

Taking up a multitude of approaches to the depiction of self, thirty-six artists and writers explore the first-person voice through the genre and formal conventions of the graphic novel.

September 10 – October 16, 2015

Curated by Affiliated Text

Photo credits: Felicity Jenkins

download roomsheet for Selfie: Image Narrative Opiate