Photographs by Dennis Karotsch | Words by Liz Krämer
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
(1): Goffman, E. (1959): The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Carden City & New York: Doubleday and Company, p. 17.