Photographs by Dennis Karotsch | Words by @liz

The act of self staging for most people may be associated with a self-adoring, autonomous subject. A subject that acts to such an extent self-regarding that to the observer it seems as if the person doesn’t even care whether to appear too extra, too pretentious, too attention seeking; whether to cause some people copping the needle. In most of the cases in fact neither self-fashioning – if referred to tangible, material appearance – nor self-dramatization – if referred to all the rather immaterial and non-tangible variables of body language and aura – underlay true self-assurance. Not to mention underlay a genuinely self-loving, authentic and emotionally congruent personality. 

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©Dennis Karotsch

The majority of today’s bloggers and influencers are intoxicated with narcissistic coping mechanisms to desperately conserve self esteem, stemming from a lack of self-confidence. As a usual ingredient of destructive narcissism people aren’t even conscious about the influence their typically self-glorifying behaviour and utterly egocentric manners have on their ‚entourage‘, indeed. Not only to their followers, but in cases of toxic narcissism especially to beloved ones.

©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch


The projects photographs intend to demonstrate an awareness of structural coherences by calling the issue by its name. Since there is no sense in covering the nature of this everyday happening procedure, especially in times of an obviously growing digitalisation and technical economy. We all are compensating actresses and actors, trying to fulfill our emotional needs. Of course, there are plenty more ways to gain affection or love – usually the first of all desires and hidden motives. Being honest with ourselves for a second, though, we tend to follow socialized measures of our zeitgeist most of the times, instead of reaching out to self-effective options. Despite everything, we can (un)learn. That is for sure.

©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch

“We are all just actors trying to control and manage our public image, we act based on how others might see us.” (1)

And if it comes to self-staging and acting parts: There may certainly be moments of trust and love with our closest beings. When we simply do not feel the urgent desire to extensively express ourselves, maintaining a certain image – nevertheless these moments are rare. Not least, because we tend to make an effort for making the loved opposite feel appreciated and respected. To do so it seems reasonable to act the part of the plain and fuss-free. To play the one you have a blast with. The stable one. The one who has an inexhaustible capacity for friends and partners before seeking for emotional support oneself. As, if you get recognized as a continuously mentally unstable personality, people get afraid to burn out from supporting. Like there is this need and unwritten law to be considered as functioning. Positively functioning.

©Dennis Karotsch

Until you realize your role-play. That role-play that always creates added-value and cuts down your own space. That self-staged image that does not only cheat on your digital followers and the fleeting passersby. But betrays yourself.

It may be a long and hard way out of (re)producing wrong and destructive images and gender-roles. However, the first step should be an awareness for self-staging – it should be to self-stage consciously at least.

©Dennis Karotsch

The photo series of photographer and filmography-student Dennis (instagram @dennis_karotsch) portraying @liz (instagram @__lmk) shall give an impression of a much less harmful and more reflected way of dealing with corporative doctrines. Liz uses her social media platforms to deconstruct the civilising obligation and need of being self-assured. With her pro-uncertainty activism and dadaistic, often self-humourous, most conscious way of self-staging and body-expression, she juggles between the symptoms of neoliberalistic poison and the options of sensitive self-staging that even allows self-irony. She frequently uncovers her deepest self-doubts.

©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch
©Dennis Karotsch

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Literature:

(1): Goffman, E. (1959): The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Carden City & New York: Doubleday and Company, p. 17.

One thought on “„The presentation of self in everyday life“”

  1. Why do we stage ourself?
    We stage ourself because it is easy and it is about ourself.
    In the aera of hyper-narcism the image of one self, or the identity, is
    the most valued thing. Others are diminuished to mere reactors or specators
    of our self-staging, reduced to the function of feedback, the instant of being seen.
    This is not only the case when self-staging as a functional, perfect person,
    but also when self-staging as vulnerable, damaged and imperfect. The longing for attention
    and validation is natural and not bad in itself, yet it can only help oneself.
    Why do we combine this need for affection with political actions?
    Because it adresses our Identity and validates it, not only by the affection of others,
    but also to appear politicaly active to ourself. The self-staged image does not only cheat on
    the digital followers, but also on yourself. As with this article about concious self-staging,
    the pictures of the person who has written, the identity, are the main part.
    While self-staging, the subject we claim to adress is not really of importance, but our relation towards it, our
    opinion on it, us being connected to it. Self-staging is a easy way to appear as woke, aware
    and caring without leaving the comfort zone, it gives ourself and others the impression
    of something happening, that somebody is doing something. The claim of a usefull irritation
    in order to broaden the mindspace of society might be having a grain of truth, but to irritate
    one does not have to be part of the irritation. There is no need for a name, a face, a account
    on Instagram or even a person appearing to send a message of irritation.
    When we struggle for something, will it help to take a selfie while doing it?
    It might. It might inspire others, it might give hope, it might send a message – yet, the struggle
    is real, it is not happening on a stage, it does not consist only of its image.
    The distortion of self-staging into political action is a approach to political work that has
    the gratification of one self at its core. A stage does not work without specators,
    but it does work without the people participating in stageplay being recorgnized as themselfes.
    Self-staging is aiming at being recognized by others, and the topic we claim to adress
    disappears behind ourself. We need to validate each other, struggle for each other
    and support each other, we need to take care of each other and work on things that are not
    ourself, cancel ourself out to focus on someone else, leave the stage and start to act,
    may other see us or not.

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