“Self-perception in times of post-truth: what can Francis Bacon’s self-portraits tell us about subjectivities in times of selfies?” A lecture by Renata Salecl


In 1970, the neurologist MacDonald Critchley wrote about self-portraits as impostors of sorts, since artists often paint images of themselves which do not resemble how they actually look. In this perception, self-portraiture would be a predecessor of today’s selfies, which are increasingly staged or airbrushed images that have little resemblance to how a person looks in real life.

The lecture will question how the creation and distortion of one’s image goes hand in hand with the neo-liberal perception of subjectivity and how it came to prominence in times of post-truth. Before the emergence of selfies, artists have been in their own way dealing with the question of creation of their self-image. The lecture will first look at Francis Bacon’s self-portraits to analyze distortion of one’s image, after it will question how self-portraits differ from selfies and how Instagram presents a new place to curate one’s life. In conclusion, the lecture will explore the phenomena of the so-called impostor syndrome, the feeling many people experience today that they will be discovered as being fake or that the truth about them being less accomplished than they seem will be revealed.



Renata Salecl is philosopher and sociologist. She is Professor of Psychology and Psychoanalysis of Law at the School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London and Senior Researcher at the Institute of Criminology at the faculty of Law in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is also Recurring Visiting Professor at Cardozo School of Law in New York and at the School of Law and Justice at the Southern Cross University in Australia. Her last book Tyranny of Choice (Profile Books 2011) has been translated into 15 languages and was featured at TED Global. Her previous books include: The Spoils of Freedom: Psychoanalysis and Feminism After the Fall of Socialism (Routledge 1994), (Per)versions of Love and Hate (Verso, 1998), and On Anxiety (Routledge 2004). Her forthcoming books is Passion for Ignorance (Princeton UP, 2020). Salecl has also published numerous articles on contemporary art, among them catalogue essays on Jenny Holzer, Anthony Gormley, and Sarah Sze. (Three of her books are available in  Russian language: (Per)version of Love and Hate; On Anxiety and Tyranny of Choice.)


Free admission with advance registration.

The talk will be delivered in English with simultaneous translation into Russian.