self-portrait series


Since 2012 I obsessively recorded all my expenses.

Originally it was a matter of cost control, after I quit my regular job and ventured into the precarious world of artistic creation.

But it became more than that. It became something that I could see myself in when I looked back at it. It became an image of me, a history of my (trans-) actions. Not only did I recognize myself in the transactions. Every transaction requires two parties. I could see myself in relation to other economic actors.

At an aggregate level, the cost of all goods and services purchased by me represents me as a consumer. It also represents me as one economic actor within an economic system. From a statistics point of view I am one contributor to the output of a given economy, because what I consume, someone else produced. The output of an economy is commonly measured by summing up consumption, investments, government expenditures, and net exports. I contributed by consuming. (Under the assumption that I am using money someone else paid me for producing something else.)

If c8400 is the number that represents my virtual identity inhabiting government registries and institutional databases, then the yearly sum of my consumption is the economic value of me within the system of national accounts.


A traditional self-portrait represents the visual appearance of a person, as perceived by that person. It anchors the self within the visual coordinates of the three dimensions at a specific moment within one’s delimited life.

From a techno-institutional perspective, time and space are not insurmountable existential boundaries. They are simply resources to be used via their material manifestations, land, labor and capital. Legal persons do not die. Countries, institutions and corporations are designed to be eternal. They are managed by numbers and they use rule-based, numeric interfaces to interact with natural persons.

This self-portrait series thus represents the economic likeness of myself, anchored within the techno-institutional coordinates of economic value and productivity.


Each self-portrait consists of a schematic representation of an individual. The compositional proportions are derived from the requirements for German biometric passport photographs. The color scheme is based on the flag of the political entity where I resided for the majority of the given year and whose currency I used. The number represents the sum of my consumer expenses during the period of one year in the currency of the political entity where I resided.


Self-portrait 2012: CNY 232,226
Self-portrait 2013: CNY 208,181
Self-portrait 2014: HKD 246,316
Self-portrait 2015: HKD 291,178
Self-portrait 2016: HKD 215,936
Self-portrait 2017: EUR 42,427
Self-portrait 2018: EUR 21,736
Self-portrait 2019: EUR 28,104

Acrylic spray on white cardboard, 1000 x 700 x 1 mm