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Mark Boulos, The Origin of the World, 2009.

The Origin of the World (2009)

This video self-portrait was inspired by the experimental cinematography of pioneering Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov.

For this work, Boulos filmed himself through a two-way mirror creating a repeated, endless image which poses more questions, particularly around narcissism and identity, than it answers.

For Boulos, the film acts as a “critique of psychoanalysis”, and the artist recites a passage from Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams during the filming. This passage, which is a quote from Sophocles, speaks of unconscious and subconscious desires and draws us into the act of apparent revelation.

The title of this work is shared with that of the 19th century painting by Gustave Courbet. This infamous work of art, once owned by psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, depicts a female abdomen and pubis, in what appears to be another act of exposure. An act of undressing and themes of desire lie at the core of these works, whether it be carnal, or a desire to truly know oneself, or another.

The links in Boulos’ work to Lacan and Freud suggest that The Origin of the World is an introspective self-analysis, but - like Courbet’s painting - the use of fabrications, fictions and mysteries ensures we never really see the artist in his own self-portrait.