Role images related to the self
Mystical, flirtatious, and dreamlike self-portrayals driven by a heedless desire to create. This, at the turn of the millennium, when analog photography was still used, sans retouching, at a time when nobody could foresee the selfie culture that would come to prevail today. Being a foreigner in New York without a set daily routine inspired me to take a closer look at myself, to slip into different roles, and to play with the formal language of fine art, advertising, and religion in a way that was as lighthearted as it was free.
“Blurred contours and diffuse lighting immerse the photographic arrangement in an aesthetic composition of colors and motifs in which reality and fantasy meld into one.“
“In her self-portraits, Maria Haas casually employs sacred elements, toys and disguises, a mix that overturns conventional meaning and establishes new contexts. Against this backdrop is the human body, almost indistinguishable from sex dolls and the stereotypical clichés of advertising.”
It was the turn of the millennium in the middle of New York. I was a stranger. I hardly knew anyone in the city of desire and had a lot of time to spare when I wasn’t working as an assistant or doing workshops. I wanted to discover not only the turbulent world outside but also the world within me, to show my many facets in an introspective and to find out what it felt like to slip into different roles and to experiment. In my apartment I set up elaborate sets. It was the age of analog photography. Without a remote control, I had to make sure I was able to easily move back and forth. After all, in staging myself, I was both director and actress in one. I wanted to consciously break away from the serious and the representative which had historically been connected to self-portraits. Seen from the perspective of today’s Instagram Age with its omnipresent selfie portrayals, my approach seems almost anachronistic and, without any post-editing, as if from another world.
Heavily made up, I played with dolls, flowers, figures, elements of feminine attire, and my body in these works. As a vamp, bride or Madonna with child, I flirted with the camera and with myself. I didn’t focus so much on the viewer’s gaze, although I usually look directly out of the pictures. It was as if the sheltered space of my studio in a foreign place had granted me a very particular anonymity, a playground for experiential and joyful experimentation. I always shot a whole role of film with thirty-six shots and had developed it the following day. The technical conditions defined a certain distance between the shot and the revelation of the results, and this determined the process just as much as the moment of uncertainty. After my one-year stay in New York, I continued the series of self-portraits in Vienna until I myself got pregnant and the motif of mother and child suddenly gained a completely new reference to reality.