Lucas Samaras


Materials: dvd

Collection: National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.

In 1969 Samaras writes the scenario, directs and is the protagonist of the 16mm colour film Self. He collaborates with Kim Levin, who is in charge of photography and montage. As the title suggests, the subject of Samaras’ film is his self, a theme which has absorbed him in various ways from the beginning of his artistic course. The artist himself as much as the theoreticians who have attempted to interpret his work both remark that Samaras’ obsession with his self, his image and his body goes beyond the concept of narcissism and borders onto the realm of self-investigation. This “psychoanalytical” interpretation of his work is evident in the film Self, where the artist, among other things, eats photographs of his family members, destroys his works or swallows alphabet pasta which spells the word ‘self’. Self is full of autobiographical references. Kim Levin has characterized it as Samaras’ autobiography, or that of his art. Although it is the first time that Samaras uses the camera, many of the elements and images that make up the film aren’t new. The objects which appear, the close-ups focusing on parts of his body, the camera’s focus on specific details, reproduce images that are familiar to those who have followed his work up till this point. Furthermore, the artist is given the opportunity to use sound. He infuses the film with songs and sounds which are mostly autobiographical references, thus reinforcing the expressive strength of the film. A little later in the same year, Samaras discovers the Polaroid camera and starts creating his famous Autopolaroids, in which we can detect similar principles and ideas with those in the film Self. The film premiered at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in August, 1969.

Eleni Ganiti 

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