Update you browser

For the best experience, we recommend you update your browser. Visit our accessibility page for a list of supported browsers. Alternatively, you can continue using your current browser by closing this message.

The Image as a Template for Posing

Trying to fit and trying to fit in. Phone, hand, gaze, always connected online and to the behaviours of the other. My body reacts and responds to what I see: following selfie-making tutorials, reenacting other people’s selfie gestures, ‘smizes’, ‘finger-mouths’, pronouncing “prawn”, deconstructing and reconstructing the language of the selfie. Yet, prior to this study, I wasn’t much of a selfie-maker, I didn’t have a grasp of the conventions, whilst I was aware of the ‘duck-face pout’, I did not know saying the word “prune” to my camera-phone, would help me master it. In this sense, I am learning through doing by following a particular prosumer-image practice.

Whilst I, the artist, perform for and create video and photographic self-portraits, this research should not be considered as simply about me, rather I work in a knotty entanglement with the pouts and poses of others, specifically women who disseminate selfies on online selling sites. In turn I create self-portraits that are less about representing my likeness, and much more about exposing the performative aspects of the self as converged with, and constructed in relation to, other bodies, both human and photographic.

Combining methods of image-appropriation, humour and unease, I re-enact the image, for the next image, drawing upon a very specific body of imagery sourced from the internet, which I make analogue, perform, and return to the digital as a new model for being – a process and concept I refer to as: ‘the image as a template for posing’. My embodied remixing of images and gestures allows me to rethink the manipulation of images and the desire to perform and become-image.

The artworks created during the course of this research are the foundations for the chapters in the thesis. The first chapter is led by the photographic series Modelling Selfies (in paper outfits) and explores the merging of differently dimensioned bodies to consider some of the labour involved in producing and consuming digital images. The second chapter begins with a number of protracted video works that sit under the title Gestures (for the selfie), this chapter continues to look at the body’s connections to the image, extending the discussion of labour, whilst examining the desire of living up to an image that is out of reach. This leads to the third and final chapter of the thesis, which commences with the series Fragmented acts and further extends my inquiry into bodies, images and labour, this time focusing on the mutations, transformations and abstractions of the self/image as it passes from one context to the next, traversing new spaces and forms, disturbing its former order, becoming fragmented, seeking alternative perspectives and taking on new meanings.

The broad aim of my inquiry is to determine how women construct, and are constructed by, the image, based on the possibilities suggested by present and everyday modes of digital image making. The image as a template for posing offers a new contribution to contemporary thinking about prosumer ‘self-portraiture’ at the intersections of photography, performance studies and labour.

Key details

School, Centre or Area


More about Moira

Moira Lovell is an artist working with photography and video. Her practice-led research focuses on the consumptive and productive cycle of a specific body of prosumer imagery to examine its impact on both offline and online relationships to the body. This project offers a new consideration of the systems of exchange bound up within this form of image making and how it produces ‘occasions’ for self[ie]-portraiture. Through her art practice, online prosumer images become vehicles for the study of present and ubiquitous modes of digital image making practices and how these intersect with new modes of subjectivity, representation, self-performance and the staging of everyday life

MA Gender, Media and Culture, Goldsmiths University, 2015; MA Photography, London College of Communication, 2006; BA (Hons) Photography, Kent Institute of Art and Design (now known as University for the Creative Arts), 1999

Director of Curriculum and Quality, Open College of the Arts, 2018; (Distance Learning) Tutor in Photography, Open College of the Arts, 2005 - to date

National Media Museum Photography Bursary, NMM, Bradford, 2008, Flash Forward, The Magenta Foundation, Canada, 2008; Jerwood Photography Prize, 2007;

2018 'Wellbeing and Time', University of Derby;

2015 'Work, Rest and Play: British Photography from the 1960s to Today', OCT Loft, Shenzhen, China (part of The Photographers’ Gallery, World in London projection);

2014-15 Portrait Salon: Four Corners Gallery, London; Fuse Art Space, Bradford; Oriel Colwyn Gallery, Wales; Gallery D, Edinburgh; Parkside Gallery, Birmingham;

2013 'Exposure', Format 13 International Photography Festival, Déda, Derby;

2013 'Fantasista: The Playmaker' An Exhibition of Football in Contemporary Art', Cello Factory, London;

2013 'We Still Stand', mac, Birmingham and National Coal Mining Museum for England, Wakefield

2013 - KEN GRANT / LOUIS QUAIL / KAJAL NISHA PATEL / MOIRA LOVELL, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow

2012 - 'She Got Game', Arlington Arts Centre, Virginia, USA

2012 - 'The World in London', The Photographers Gallery, Victoria Park & Gulbenkian Foundation HQ, Hoxton, London

2009 - ArtSway Open 09, ArtSway , New Forest

2009 - 'Desaturated', The Art Centre, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

2009 - Rhubarb-Rhubarb Bursary Winners Exhibition, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, West Midlands

2008 - 'CLICK CHICKS +: mostly women photographers', Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, Texas, USA

2008 - 'New Works Pavilion' , National Media Museum, Bradford

2008 - 'Teen City', Musee d'Elysee, Lausanne, Switzerland



New Light: Jerwood Photography Awards Book ISBN: 978-0-9520608-4-0

'Stand Your Ground' in Art versus Sport by Jennifer Doyle in X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly Vol 11: 4 p.4-17

Tenth Flash Forward (2014) Ten Years of Flash Forward Special Anniversary Edition ISBN978-1-926856056 (set)

Flash Forward 2008 The Magenta Foundation ISBN: 978-0-9739739-6-9

Pavilion Commissions Programme 2008 Celebrating with Emerging UK Photographers ISBN: 978-0-9544775-5-4