Amor Sui (Latin for ‘self-love’), an ongoing portrait project by Irvin Rivera, explores one extreme form of self-love by asking subjects to make love with their own mirror image. The idea followed from a random conversation that Rivera had, which led to the question: what would happen if you could actually make out with yourself in the mirror?
Well, seeing the result, eerie things happen. In Rivera’s series, we see the subject in conjunction with his or her mirror image, in the midst of a sensual interaction. At first, the viewer is drawn to think of just two different persons who make love. However, when noticing that one of the subjects is actually the mirror’s reflection of the original, this archetypical image is left behind; an unexpected layer of depth appears when you realise that, in contrast to the usual forms of self-love we see in contemporary society (selfies, the countless Instagram updates, etc.), here the subject does not show self-love in order to convince the outside world of their worth. Rather, in this project, the subject simply shows passionate love for itself, without consideration for what the outside world thinks about it.
By working out this idea in his photos, Rivera might have created an ultimate construction of self-love and narcissism; a construction in which the subject is thus immersed in desire for itself that no one will be able to break into the bond created between subject and mirror image.
Rivera explains that some of his subjects at first felt uncomfortable when making out with their mirror image. After seeing the series, it comes as no surprise. While people normally check their appearance in front of a mirror, here they must face themselves and recreate themselves as objects of desire. As Rivera remarks, at times during this process a layer of homophobia emerged, as subjects were asked to think of desiring a person (be it just a mirror image) of the same sex. By giving subjects the freedom to engage with themselves in whatever way that came to mind, Rivera was able to capture Amor Sui in an intimate way, as if the viewer was not present.