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An object in a picture and a picture as an object

By Boris Bernstein

Artists have been working with their own faces for a long time. I don't mean self-portraits proper, but experiments with the face as studies of psychological expressivity with material at hand; the giants did it: Durer, young Rembrandt. Classicism here, as everywhere, strove to standardize: the formulaic expressions of anger, fear, surprise, etc. drawn by Charles Le Brun served as models for more than a century and were reproduced in Diderot's Encyclopedia. I brought up these examples to clarify the nature of Kazanskaya's self-portrait drawings. Here once again there is a game, somewhat childish: imagining oneself a monster or a charmer, pretending to be playful or furious. The "differentness" and secrecy of play are most vividly displayed in "dressing up". Here the "extra-ordinary" nature of play reaches perfection. The disguised or masked individual "plays" another part, another being. He is another being. [Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, Routledge, London, 2002, p. 13]. The playful antinomy of this actorhood, however, is that while acting out another being, I remain at the same time myself. That is why Maria included a "straight" self-portrait in the series.