It is the age of the selfie, and yet Roberto Foddai’s self-portraits feel like anything but. His images range from dramatic, erotic snapshots to costumed and posed portraits. The Photoshop manipulations he executes, notably in the “make it double!” series, are both subtle and transformative. He merges pictures of himself into the same frame, doubling the impact. Two Robertos laughing together, two lying on the same bed, and, memorably, one pleasuring his “other” self. The effects are transparent and the narrative in the pictures exists outside of their computerized genesis.
Why the costumes, the playacting and grimacing? Why two Robertos in the frame? He answers:
1. I like to be other people as I am often bored of myself.
2. It is easier to be boring in my daily life and dressing up in photographs fills the need I often have to be different.
3. I think, as Feminist and writer Carol Hanish said “The Personal is Political” so it is me in the pictures but they are often a political statement and maybe not as personal as they look.
We see Roberto Foddai as Freida Pinto. Roberto Foddai as a pink gowned ingénue. Wearing a necklace of shuttlecocks. In a swim cap, a nightgown. In underwear and red socks. Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits in disguise are called to mind, but unlike Sherman, Foddai makes very little effort to camouflage himself completely.
I always liked the idea of documenting my own life for myself. Keeping a visual diary of my life also gave me other ideas or other subjects I could work on. This is clearly a work in progress and without any doubt one of my favourite parts of my work. I often struggle with the way I look but it helps me to look at my life in a more objective way.
In many of these self-portraits Foddai is not conventionally attractive. Sweaty, with decayed looking teeth, and testicles poking through his underwear, these images are raw and unadorned. And it’s that truth in the images, in the portraits, that makes it difficult to look away.