Thrandur Thorarinsson, Self-Portrait as a Woman Giving Birth, Child, and Midwife, 2018

Thorarinsson describes how “An Icelandic magazine called the Reykjavik Grapevine asked me to paint a self-portrait for the cover, for an accompanying interview with me inside. At the time midwives in Iceland were going on a strike, demanding better wages, so I decided to show them my support by painting a triple portrait of myself as a mother giving birth to myself and as the midwife.”
It’s difficult to unravel this image; the midwife looks at us concerned, perhaps about his wages, but the baby is happy. Happy to be born healthy in the midwife’s arms? Or is some joke being played on us? The emblem on the midwife’s uniform has been crossed out and replaced with a girl power emblem. The mother gives us a quick look as he is too busy expelling afterbirth. This painting brings up more questions than answers, but Thorarinsson is not being glib; he’s genuine in his support of the midwives. We can attribute the psychological messiness of the image to what he calls his own ‘narcissism.’

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