I’ve been browsing the BBC News website again, and this time I stumbled across (or someone stumbled me over I should say), an article about Swedish artist Fredrik Saker who decided to try and fake the photograph of himself he needed for his driving licence, by painting it. His aim was to prove to himself (and the Swedish driving authorities) that he could paint a picture of himself that was as good as a photograph. The terms of the licence issuing body was that the photograph should a photograph that was a recent likeness. Taking this literally Saker took this to mean that a photograph of a painting of a ‘recent likeness’ could be submitted. So he did. And it worked.
Saker worked on his self-portrait for around 100 hours with the tiniest of tiny brushes (some with barely one or two hairs). The technique harks back to the art of the 16th-century miniaturists such as Nicholas Hilliard. However, Saker was also interested in manipulating technology and mimicing technology. He wanted to question what was true, and what was false. He was particularly interested in the concept of the mind’s perception of what appears to be reality.
According to Dagens Nyheter, which first reported the story, the Transport Board compared the photograph of the painting with Saker’s previous licence photograph. Peter Ranki, a spokesman for the Swedish Transport Board, explained that Saker’s self-portrait ‘looked like a photograph, so we had no reason to question it’. Ranki actually agreed that the license can be used, but he does not recommend that others try this technique.
Saker has now decided to make more paintings of other people’s ‘bad hair day’ photographs to see if he can obtain driving licences in this way. I think it would be far quicker to pop down to the train station and pay £5 for four photos.
Lesley Ciarula Taylor ‘Artist paints his driving licence’, The Star, http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1303368–artist-paints-his-driver-s-licence [last accessed 21 December 2012]
Frederik Saker’s website, http://www.fredriksaker.se/painting.php [last accessed 21 December 2012]
BBC News Website, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20739778 [last accessed 21 December 2012]