I loved that she gave her kids homegrown vegetables and big glasses of sugary processed Kool-Aid right alongside. That is my favorite kind of integrated person. Some of each thing and not too much of any one.
– Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones & Butter
With a profession that capitalizes on human relationships called fundraising, I at times think about the many layers of self that come out and project onto different people as different images, depending on circumstances, contexts, and the other person’s beliefs and expectations of the whole me. How does one remain professional and authentic?
In other words, I wonder which part of me do people usually take away at the end of the short interface they have with me, let’s say, at the British Club or at Pansodan Gallery? Which little piece of my image do they remember? Do people feel shortchanged when I ask for a business card after introducing myself as a fundraiser? And what does it really mean to appeal to diverse sets of personalities and walks of life as my CV reads? Especially as an intermediary between HNWIs donors and Bottom of Pyramid rural farmers?
This perceived need to justify/protect self-commodification is different from the puerile anxiety to stick to clan loyalties or to appear prettier, thinner, richer or hipster-er than/like peers on IG. Self-commodification is different. For instance, if a fundraiser for a nonprofit working with women enjoys and appreciates polite men holding doors for her, is that authenticity or hypocrisy? Does one need to go all out and act on the stereotypes of any identity that is associated with? Or is that called walking the talk? I do not think that one has to be a vegan to be an environmentalist, but some do. I do not believe one needs to vote along party lines, but some do.
If you are in publishing business, do you read for pleasure or work? Do you pick up a book because of professional interest, or you can’t help picking up books after books, and hence you are in publishing? In the world of influencer-marketing, what is the right balance?
Creating a coherent image/self is the same issue that grappled the late Francesca Woodman in her twenties.
For a photographer that primarily works with nude self-portraits, for someone who calls her work Portrait of a Reputation, for an artist that wonders if her diary reads like a novel, how does she manage her body’s role?
How do you stay in one piece when you have a private self that you may disclose to only some but also want to project a universal public – and in her case – a certain aesthetic and equally authentic image as her career requires it?
I don’t think Woodman found an answer she liked.
On that note, Happy New Year 2013.