Camerawork, London


20 Mar – 12 Apr 1990

Past Exhibition
Curated by Autograph

Autograph's first exhibition centred the notion of self-representation


121 Roman Road
London, UK


Monika Baker, Allan deSouza, Joy Gregory, Sunil Gupta, Lyle Harris, Mumtaz Karimjee and Roshini Kempadoo

past exhibition

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Autoportraits was the first exhibition curated and organised by Autograph, featuring new work by artists Mon­ika Baker, Allan deSouza, Joy Gregory, Sunil Gupta, Lyle Har­ris, Mumtaz Karimjee and Rosh­ini Kempadoo. Self-portraiture was chosen as the first theme to be addressed by an Autograph exhibition, as it is a question photographers often come back to and - by definition - an idea central to Autograph.

The body/self is not photographed, but positioned, worked on. It has become a place of inscription; literally, something to be written upon and 'read'; an 'autograph'

— Professor Stuart Hall

At this time, Autograph did not have a dedicated gallery space and Autoportraits opened at CameraWork before touring to other venues.

The artists in Autoportraits described their work on display for Autograph's March 1990 newsletter: Monica Baker's photographs explored her role as woman/mother and her relationship with a teenaged son in the post-feminist 1990, ''the mystique of the menstruation and its role in child-bearing is en­meshed with child-rearing''. Sunil Gupta addressed issues "that have predomi­nated in the political construc­tion of myself", and Lyle Harris's photographs were "a response to my experience of marginality as a Black gay man". Mumtaz Karimjee stated "Fear - Alien­ates - The Small Child - Runs - Adult - Dreams - Shatter". Roshini Kempadoo's work concerned "the creation of the self-portrait, belief in the truth of the self and the objectivity of the photographic record disap­pear simultaneously. It is the creation of the other, the imagi­nary distortion, playing the game around identity, the form and fiction of identity."

Professor Stuart Hall wrote a new essay, Black Narcissus, to accompany the Autoportraits exhibition.

Joy Gregory, from the series Autoportrait, 1989-90. Commissioned by Autograph

Joy Gregory, from the series Autoportrait, 1989-90. Commissioned by Autograph


Autograph's first exhibition

We've since produced - and contributed to - thousands of groundbreaking exhibitions


Professor Stuart Hall's exhibition essay Black Narcissus has been republished and cited in numerous books and articles

artist commission

Joy Gregory's series Autoportrait was Autograph's first artist commission, and is in our collection of photography



Lyle Harris' photographs Constructs #10 – #13 debuted in Autoportraits, and were later acquired by Tate from the artist. See them at Tate Modern.

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Images, from top: 1-3) Joy Gregory, from the series Autoportrait, 1989-90. Commissioned by Autograph. 1) detail. 4) Installation view: Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now (Part 2), July 24, 2019–January 5, 2020, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Photograph by David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.