The ways in which art is consumed in the 21st century has done more to change female self-portraiture than anything else. Our increasingly digital experience of art and the female body is exemplified in ’s
popular Instagram project, which chronicles her semi-fictionalized transformation into tropes she saw popularized online such as “cute girl,” “sugar baby,” and “life goddess.” Her months-long “performance” through Instagram selfies catapulted female self-portraiture into the Internet age. At the same time, Ulman’s project confronts the question of authenticity in the selfie, the most modern form of self-portrait. In a 2014 image, Excellences & Perfections (Instagram Update, 5th September 2014)
, Ulman captures herself in a mirrored room, as if suggesting that her online image is one of infinite illusions and transmutations.
The means, mechanisms, and traditions of female self-portraiture have changed dramatically over time, but the genre has retained its enduring ability to transgress and subvert expectations, all while demanding that the world recognize and appreciate its female artists.