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MDPI Book Launch | Self-Representation in an Expanded Field

14 May 2021

Selfies, Self-Portraiture, Social Media, Art History, Representation, Intersectionality, Identity, Consumer Culture
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Welcome from the Chair

MDPI Books is presenting the release of a new Open Access book. In the first virtual book launch, we host and introduce the edited volume Self-Representation in an Expanded Field: From Self-Portraiture to Selfie, Contemporary Art in the Social Media Age of the series State of the Arts–Reflecting Contemporary Cultural Expression.

Date: 14 May 2021

Time: 4:00pm CEST | 10:00am EDT | 10:00pm CST Asia

Webinar ID: 957 3438 8973
MDPI contact:

Message from the Chair:
Defined as a self-image made with a hand-held mobile device and shared via social media platforms, the selfie has facilitated self-imaging, becoming a ubiquitous part of globally networked contemporary life. Beyond this, selfies have facilitated a diversity of image-making practices and enabled otherwise representationally marginalized constituencies to insert self-representations into visual culture. Art historically self-portraiture has been somewhat rigidly albeit obliquely defined, and selfies have facilitated a shift regarding who literally holds the power to self-image. Like self-portraits, not all selfies are inherently aesthetically or conceptually rigorous. But, –as this project addresses via a variety of interdisciplinary approaches– selfies have irreversibly impacted visual culture, contemporary art, and portraiture in particular. As the authors of this volume demonstrate selfies propose new modes of self-imaging, forward emerging aesthetics, and challenge established methods, they prove that as scholars and image-makers, it is necessary to adapt and innovate in order to contend with the most current form of self-representation to date. The dynamic, interdisciplinary scholarship gathered herein reveals that in our current moment, it is necessary and advantageous to consider the merits and interventions of selfies and self-portraiture in an expanded field of self-representation. The contributing authors take interdisciplinary global perspectives, to investigate various sub-genres, aesthetic practices, and lineages in which various forms of self-imaging intervene and enrich the discourse on self-representation in the expanded field today.

Thank you for your interest in this project and welcome to our book launch,
Ace Lehner, PhD

Conference Chairs

Parsons School of Design, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the International Center of Photography, USA

Ace Lehner is an interdisciplinary scholar and artist specializing in critical engagement with identity and representation; history, theory, and criticism of contemporary art; photography theory; queer and trans theory; and critical race studies. Recently, Lehner has presented their research at the College Art Association Conference, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the International Center of Photography, and has been published in Art Journal, REFRACT, The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, and The Journal on Images and Culture. Their work has been exhibited internationally and has recently appeared at El Museo del Barrio in New York (in collaboration with artist Libby Paloma), and Lehner’s project Barbershop: The Art of Queer Failure will be featured in a solo exhibition at Practice Gallery in Philadelphia in 2021. Lehner holds a Ph.D. in Visual Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and MFA in Fine Art from California College of the Arts. Lehner is based in New York and teaches at Parsons School of Design, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the International Center of Photography. Lehner is also available for consultation and speaking engagements related to Queer and Trans inclusivity.

Keynote Speakers

University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Mehita Iqani is a Professor in the Media Studies department at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Her research is interdisciplinary, spanning the politics of waste, consumption and inequality, cultural theory, critical discourse analysis, and strategic communications. She is the author of three monographs, most recently Garbage in Popular Culture: Consumption and the Aesthetics of Waste (2020, SUNY Press). She is the co-editor of four collections, most recently Media Studies: Critical African and Decolonial Approaches (2019, OUP) and African Luxury: Aesthetics and Politics (2019, Intellect and University of Chicago Press). She has also published widely in and reviews for key international journals, is Associate Editor of Consumption Markets and Culture, and is on the board of International Journal of Cultural Studies and Communication Theory. Her PhD is in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

University of Art & Design Linz, Austria

Tina Sauerlaender is an art historian, curator, speaker, and writer. She focuses on the impact of the digital and the Internet on individual environments and society as well as on virtual reality in visual arts. She is a PhD candidate at University of Art & Design Linz, Austria, Department of Interface Cultures. Her research topic is artistic self-representation in digital art. She is the Director & Head Curator of the independent exhibition platform peer to space and has been curating and organizing international group shows since 2010, including The Unframed World: Virtual Reality as Artistic Medium for the 21st Century (House of Electronic Arts Basel, 2017). She is Co-Founder of Radiance VR, an international online research platform for VR experiences in visual arts. She has given talks on Virtual Reality & Art at re:publica (Berlin), ZKM (Karlsruhe), or New Inc (New York). She is the author of comprehensive texts on contemporary artists, including Taryn Simon, Alicja Kwade, Gregor Hildebrandt, and Carsten Nicolai for Kritisches Lexikon der Gegenwartskunst. She is the Founder of the SALOON, a diverse network of woman identifying art professionals active in a growing number of cities worldwide. She is Artistic Director of the VR ART PRIZE by DKB in Cooperation with CAA Berlin.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA

Marc Tasman is an Intermedia artist focusing his research-creation on the strengths of social technologies to create meaning in culture. He is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies Department where he directs the interdisciplinary Digital Arts and Culture program. Tasman encourages students to look at theories of media and to test them using various innovative, engaging, and practical applications in classes such as Internet Culture, Media Graphics, and Photojournalism. He may be most well known as the “12-year-old Computer Genius from 1984” on YouTube, or from his project Ten Years and One Day in which he photographed himself at least once a day, every day for 3,654 consecutive days, from July 24, 1999 through July 24, 2009, using a Polaroid camera and film. Tasman has presented and exhibited throughout the U.S.A, in Canada and Europe, screened work at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and published photographs in the New York Times Digital Edition, The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and Tablet Magazine.

Terra Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in American Photography at the Rijksmuseum, The Netherlands

Natalie Zelt is a specialist in the history of art of the United States with a focus on photography and critical race and gender studies. She earned her doctorate at the University of Texas, Austin. Zelt has worked independently as a curator for more than a decade, is founding member of the anti-racist feminist collective INGZ, and has worked for institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She is the author of several articles on photography and identity in the United States and her manuscript Looking and Looking Back: The Photography, Blackness, Family, and Self- Representation in the Work of LaToya Ruby Frazier, Mickalene Thomas, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby is in development for publication. She is the Terra Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in American Photography at the Rijksmuseum. She currently lives and works in Amsterdam.

Book Launch Recording

Have a look at the recorded Book Launch below!



Time in CEST

MDPI Host, Oliva Andereggen, Introduction

4:00 – 4:05 pm

Chair, Ace Lehner

Introduction of Edited Volume and Speakers

4:05 – 4:15 pm

Natalie Zelt

Chapter Introduction: 'Feeling Myself: Loving Gestures and Representation in Mickalene Thomas: Muse'

4:15 – 4:20 pm

Tina Sauerlaender

Chapter Introduction: 'Reflecting on Life on the Internet: Artistic Webcam Performances from 1997 to 2017'

4:20 – 4:25 pm

Marc A. Tasman

Chapter Introduction: 'Race for the Prize: The Proto-Selfie as Endurance Performance Art'

4:25 – 4:30 pm

Mehita Iqani

Chapter Introduction: '“First Ever Selfie Cover!”: Cosmopolitan Magazine, Influencers, and the Mainstreaming of Selfie Style'

4:30 – 4:35 pm

Ace Lehner

Chapter Introduction: 'Self-Image as Intervention: Travis Alabanza and the New Ontology of Portrait Photography'

4:35 – 4:40 pm

Discussion of Edited Volume among Panelists

4:40 – 5:00 pm


Audience is able to pose questions

5:00 – 5:15 pm

Closing of Book Launch
Ace Lehner

5:15 – 5:20 pm

Sponsors and Partners