Understanding This New Art Movement of Defacement Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Removing the Face to Uncover the Frailty and Weakness Underneath?

Some artists statements seem to suggest that the defacement of their subjects face is a metaphor or a way of talking about human weakness.  It can also be seen as a way of dealing with the weakness of the human psyche, if you associate the face with the human mind or soul.  For instance photographer Seung-Hwan Oh actually treats his film with a fungus before using it.  The photograph then begins to break down.

He states: “I use this technique to share an idea that all the matter including all the life forms collapse in this spatial-temporal dimension we belong to.”  See HERE

Impermanence by Seung-Hwan Oh
Impermanence by Seung-Hwan Oh

His work focuses specifically on portraits and specifically on faces – breaking them down to show the impermanence of the film and ultimately people themselves.    In this next painting the artist, Shan Ma, paints nudes and deliberately either has them looking away from the viewer or blurs their faces.  His entire “Existence” series speaks to the frailty of people, and again the face is deliberately obscured and blotted out.

Existence No. 27 by Shang Ma
Existence No. 27 by Shang Ma


The Marvel by Simon Birch
The Marvel by Simon Birch

Work by Simon Birch shows figures in emotional states with faces disfigured or blurred.  Again there is a sense of vulnerability and also emotionalism. This collage by Franz Falkenhaus shows the subject of the art in a vulnerable position with the face obscured.

Collage by Franz Falckenhuas
Collage by Franz Falckenhaus


In photography the effect of movement blurs the photo, but photographer Mia Yates employs this to blur the face.  Instead of making her figure look powerful this also has the effect of evoking vulnerability.


untitled photo by Mia Yates
untitled photo by Mia Yates

So if the face represents the human being – the who of who we are, the most vulnerable part of who we are, then by blurring it, defacing it the artist is attempting to make a statement about how vulnerable we are.  Or perhaps they are portraying their own vulnerability.  Or perhaps how vulnerable it makes us trying to portray our weakness, frailty and vulnerability?



 Next Part 5 Bending Toward Cubism

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