1983. Black and white photographs (a selection from a series of 32 images). Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.
The Face That Is Not One
Just as Lorenza turns the sidewalk of the streets into a new pictorial and performative space, she also transforms her own skin into a canvas that allows her to rewrite a critical dialogue with imposed norms and identities. Many of her “danced-paintings” and her performances begin with the initial act of painting her face. Holding the brush with her foot, she redraws the contours of her eyes, covers her cheekbones and forehead with triangles or geometrical lines. By transforming the face into an inscription surface, Lorenza denaturalizes it as the site of identity—gender, racial, human. The face becomes a socially constructed mask that the artist can help to redraw.
In 1984, she took a series of photographs in which the face is the operator of a relentless metamorphosis: masks of femininity and masculinity follow one another, becoming more and more abstract and conceptual. Facial painting is not only done with pigments, Lorenza also uses body hair, specifically her beard and eyebrows, as formal and chromatic motifs with which she builds and deconstructs the face that is not one.
Lorenza’s self-portraits are part of an artistic genealogy that uses self-fiction representation against disciplinary photography. Like Claude Cahun, Jürgen Klauke, Michel Journiac, Suzy Lake or Jo Spence, Lorenza uses the self-portrait as a technique of resistance against colonial, medical and police identification photography in which the image served to identify the other by constructing him or her as primitive, sick, disabled, deviant or criminal.