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Published by Adam Fieled
Portraits of American artist Adam Fieled, b. 1976, covering the entirety of his life.
Portraits of American artist Adam Fieled, b. 1976, covering the entirety of his life.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Adam Fieled on Mar 19, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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For an artist, looking at photographs of one’s self can be an exercise in narcissism or avista to something higher. I would prefer the move to higher ground— and my first confession,
in doing so, is that more than half of the memories these portraits bring back are either painfulones or have pain built into them somewhere. My childhood had a hinge to the Dickensian— myparents divorced when I was four, and both remarried and remarried again. I lived in astaggering number of different locales as a child (many of them were Cheltenham locales,many not). I was very talented and very bright; but also rebellious and punkish. TheCheltenham school system was a site of many heists, and one of their heists (partly owing tomy rebelliousness, partly to my parents’ inferior funds and connections) was to put me downforwards, backwards, and sideways. I was often ranked beneath children far less bright, andless talented. Like many products of broken homes in America, I was also forced to grow up toofast. That’s one reason I look unusually self-possessed in my childhood portraits. If I was goingto survive, I had no option but to be self-possessed. Even if Cheltenham High School (whosefavors and promotions could be bought and sold with the right funds and connections) was soharrowing to me that it turned me briefly into a zombie (see the Jenkintown ’90 portrait).Cheltenham was the nadir of my life— a community so corny, cheesy, and conformistthat it killed off most of its progeny before they were of age to leave, and face the wider world(universities in America are not so easily bought off). Kelly McCabe’s State College portrait of me captures a more germane moment, even if the impulse behind my posture is still defianceand risk— I’m staking my claim as a rocked out version of Stephen Dedalus, whose life pivots onthe arts and whose self-conceptions can only concern a personal quest for supreme artistry,cutting against grains if necessary. It’s a shame my NYC year (’98-’99) is unrepresented— theEast Village street kid look I put together was unique. Something might emerge at a later date.The Philadelphia portraits, which constitute the bulk of the collection, run the gamut, from theMandarinite impulses of higher art (the portraits, both photos and paintings, from Mary Harjuand Abby Heller-Burnham) to the grunge of “Goth” fashions and updated glam-rock (LinderRanieri’s ’00 portraits of me at PMA and on Pine Street).There are portraits in the middle, too— stills from the videos shot at the Eris Temple inWest Philly, Dawn Gailey’s yeoman’s portrait of me at the Last Drop in ’08.One word about therecurrent black and red flannel— I bought it in Concord, New Hampshire, at a Wal-Mart in 2005(thanks for the ride, Jon Anderson). It’s not available on the Eastern seaboard. I only bought itbecause the airline I took from Philly to Manchester lost part of my luggage. It looked freakishin Center City Philly, which is why I continued to wear it— New England chic! The black scarf was added for a further level of freakishness. That having been said, neither I nor anyone elsein PFS thought much in a calculated way about our threads. We did care about the mechanicsof serious photography— composition, coloration, ambience/ “vibe.” The portraits here whichwill last the longest are the ones most attentive to these aesthetic details. Every one of themwas taken (as were all the PFS portraits) “on the cheap”— and I (and we) still look better thanthe majority of L.A. and New York show-biz types, even with millions of dollars (manifested inmake-up technicians, trick angles and lighting, and borrowed ensembles) behind them. Whatwe did, we did ourselves; and the limitations on our activities were more empowering thannot.Adam Fieled, 2013

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