SPEX, a dispositive for individual and social transformation 

An online workshop for school teachers, STE-students and teacher educators of the German Switzerland

By Cristina Nuñez and Claudia Stübi 


November 16 and 23, and December 1st from 7.30 pm to 9 pm 

The Self-Portrait Experience (SPEX) is a dispositive for individual and social transformation through the photo self-portrait. It was created in 2004 by artist Cristina Nuñez drawing from her own personal experience with the self-portrait to overcome personal problems. 

SPEX consists in the production of self-portraits and a work on the multiple, subjective and ever-changing perceptions of these images, in order to broaden and enrich our perception of ourselves and thus empower ourselves. The SPEX self-portrait is not the “selfie” as public image that conforms with beauty standards, but a more private and authentic image of ourselves. 

Since the selfie-boom in 2013, self-portraits play a crucial role in adolescent’s way of expressing and presenting themselves to their peers and in taking part in an everyday social exchange. The urge to perform through self-portraits is often paired with a high concern about how they appear in the pictures. They experience a pressure to conform to current beauty standards and keep up with their peers. This brings them to control the images they publish and delete those that do not cohere with what they want to show to the world. 

Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan said that the process of recognition of the child in the mirror, in an image in which they didn’t recognize themselves, is crucial for the construction of identity. If this is so, how are adolescents going to construct their adult identity if they continue to reject the more natural, free and authentic images of themselves? SPEX works directly to address this, by means of the articulate work on the multiple and ever-changing perceptions of images in which they don’t like or recognize themselves. 

The SPEX dispositive has been presented for the first time in German Switzerland during the Kulturtag 2020 and is now available to be implemented in compulsory schools in the Kanton of Bern. 

The online workshop 

The online workshop for school teachers, STE-students and teacher educators is aimed at introducing the SPEX dispositive in the German Switzerland. It will consist in three Zoom sessions, programme as follows: 

– First video-call, November 16, 7.30pm to 9pm: presentation of the SPEX dispositive, discussion and introduction to the photo self-portraits that participants will produce during the week. 

– Second video-call, November 23, 7.30pm to 9pm: group work on the multiple perceptions of the images produced. 

– Third video-call, December 1st, 7.30pm to 9pm: discussion on the effects of the experience and its application with kids and teenagers at school. 

The workshop will be mainly held in English, but we can give support and some translation to German and French. 

Cristina Nuñez 

Cristina Nuñez is a contemporary artist whose work has been published and exhibited internationally. She has held SPEX workshops around the globe in schools, prisons, mental health facilities, universities, museums and companies with over 3700 people. In 2020 Nuñez has obtained a PhD by Publications on SPEX at the College of Art, University of Derby, UK. 

Claudia Stübi 

Claudia Stübi was a secondary school teacher and works as project manager for school development at PH FHNW since 2011. She is currently studying ways to add to her work artists’ approaches, with the conviction that the collaboration between art and education can find new ways of mediation, awareness-building and empowerment. 

Contact and enrolments: 

Email Claudia Stübi 

The workshop is only for school teachers, STE-students and teacher educators of the German Switzerland and it is free of charge, as part of the Kulturtag 2020 of the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz. The workshop will have a maximum of 15 participants.

More information: 

Watch Cristina Nuñez’s video presentation about SPEX for teenagers, including an explanation of the workshop, with the collaboration of Claudia Stübi:

Backstage video of the project #closetome with 250 teenagers of Milan, produced by the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Cinisello.