Digital Wondering 11

Digital Wonderings are a series of online speculations around the curatorial theme of TRUST. They can take any form, from a conversation, a short statement, a film or a photographic series. Invited contributors come from a wide range of disciplines and can respond and react to the theme and the format as they wish.

About trust and the self portrait


In her upcoming book Say So, Whitney Hubbs continues her quest to explore and challenge the relationship between the camera and the female body that she began in Woman in Motion (2017). In Say So she uses and abuses her own body in masochistic performances that are made at the intersection of eroticism and humiliation. In this way the project deals with trust, because Hubbs is the one doing these things to herself and putting it out there. ‘Hubbs does something completely new with the artist self-portrait’, Chris Kraus writes in the accompanying essay in the book.

The way this work was first shown was as a collage made for her show Animal, Hole, Selfie at Situations in January, 2020. She had made a picture six years ago of a woman bending over that always made her feel uncomfortable. And so, she started experimenting, using herself as the model: ‘It’s a type of humiliation and/or debasement… to put myself on display in subversive ways. The ideas I am performing for the photographs came out of isolation, boredom, failure; certainly not for a lack of imagination.’ Many people are wondering what isolation has done to us, maybe this is also what resonates in Hubbs’ images: ‘In 2016 I moved from LA to upstate New York. So, this isolation has been nothing new to me.‘


Hubbs has previously talked about age when it came to this project, and letting go of inhibitions: I had been thinking about things that happen in your forties when you separate yourself from all these expectations about how you should be. You’re like, this is it.

The book will be out with SPBH this fall. Hubbs is not worried about the reception of the work, if people will like it, and with her selfies she is pushing a notion of age that a lot of people need to see and deal with: ‘I’d never ask someone else to do this, and then put their image up. I think of like Boris Mikhailov, of those self-portraits or Paul McCarthy, both of them men. I’m channeling this bad-boy behavior in a 40-something female body. It’s trusting the camera, trusting my skillset, challenging myself to put all that stuff out there. I just trust in being an artist.’


Whitney Hubbs was born (1977) and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Before starting her education, she lived in the Bay Area (CA) and Portland, OR. She received her BFA from the California College of the Arts in 2005 and an MFA at UCLA in 2009.  Whitney Hubbs was involved in the punk rock riot grrrl community from a young age, where she made fanzines, organized art shows, and participated in performances.

Hubbs was recently included in a four-person exhibition at The J. Paul Getty Museum. Two-person and solo exhibitions include Madeleine Cake (with Alika Cooper) at SITUATIONS, New York; Body Doubles at M+B Gallery, Stutter Shutter at David B. Smith, Denver, CO and Casemore Kirkeby, San Francisco, CA, and at the California Museum of Photography, Riverside. Group exhibitions include Screenscapes at Galeria Nara Roesler in São Paulo, Brazil, Ami Omi at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, and les vases communicants at Shulamit Nazaria Gallery. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The California Museum of Photography at the University of California, Riverside; and The Riot Grrrl Collection, Fales Library Special Collections, New York University, New York. Hesse Press published the artists first monograph, Woman In Motion. She is an Assistant Professor Photography at Alfred University. Hubbs is currently represented by M+B Gallery in Los Angeles and Situations Gallery in New York City. She is looking forward to a two-person exhibition at the Silver Eye Center for Photography next December, as well as a book forthcoming with SPBH Editions in the Fall of 2021.