Dürer points not only to the instability of selfconsciousness involved in visual perception but also to the self-consciousness implicated in the act of drawing itself. Pillows, another work of his produced in the same year, has a similar subject matter. Six pillows drawn in pen with ambiguous folds and shades conceal the physiognomies of faces. The
Albrecht Dürer’s ink drawing Self-portrait at the Age of 22, produced in 1493, is an arrangement of three parts: Dürer’s face, his hand and his pillow. The parts are awkwardly positioned on the paper as if floating. There is a sense of fragmentation and incompleteness in the drawing that alludes to the idea of the fractured self. Dürer wants to draw his portrait but it is not easy. His hand draws his face, trying to present it as a picture to the world and to himself, but it looks like a mask that could cover his face. Curiously, the three parts of the drawinghand, face and pillow-are drawn in similar sizes, which suggests that they could potentially screen
drawing can be seen as an allegorical representation of the flow of dreams and the unconscious, metaphorically ‘echoing’ the instability of the self and representing change within the same face and dream. Dürer once more demonstrates a relativist understanding of the self and of the drawing where the boundaries between the two are blurred. As in the worlds of Lacan and Beckett, the Eye belongs in the Object and vice versa. Dürer presents the artist belonging in the drawing. People’s creationswhether drawings, buildings or cities-are in some ways their own portraits. You are what you draw and make.