Wolfgang Georg Fischer – Egon Schiele, The Theater of the Self:
In the oil The Self-Seers (Death and Man, 1911) there is a pale, hazy phantom image – as at a séance – behind the darker portrait in the foreground, and it is as if this phantom had been called up by the hand that rises from depths. The portrait sitter’s eyes are wide in alarm, his eyebrows raised, as he sees his second image as Death behind him. The doppelgänger as mask and death mask; the opposition of the present and a menacing, fateful future. The recurring death motif in his work prompted Schiele to offer a written comment. For him, life and death were co-present, as the doppelgänger images imply. In a poem of 1910 or 1911 he wrote: “I am a man, I love death and love life.”(…) For an artist to give such preferential treatment to his own body and face, to use his available person so insistently, to look so addictively into the studio mirror, is inconceivable if the artist is not also narcissistic beyond the usual.
John Nathan – Mishima, a Biography:
In mid-September Mishima posed for the young photographer Kishin Shinoyama for the first of a series of photographs called “Death of a Man.” The series was Mishima’s inspiration and Mishima designed the scenes. They included Mishima drowning in mud, Mishima with a hatchet in his brain, Mishima beneath the wheels of a cement truck, and of course Mishima as Saint Sebastian, arms roped above his head to a tree branch and arrows burning deliciously into his armpit and flank. The photographs were intended for publication in a magazine called Blood and Roses, but when Mishima died, Shinoyama could not bring himself to release them. The photograph that most unnerved him was one he had taken in jest; Mishima sits naked on the floor with a short sword buried in his abdomen, and standing behind him, with a long sword raised waiting to behead him on his signal, is Shinoyama. What can Mishima have been thinking? Were these moments when stage blood and the real thing came confused in his mind and he looked forward to his actual death as simple another more sensational pose? In all the hours of talk about each scene while it was being planed and photographed, Shinoyama’s only impression was that Mishima was intensely serious about the project, “the most demanding and the most cooperative” model he had ever had
Jean-Luc Mercié – Pierre Molinier, a retrospective: On the fixed date - 3 March - at the appointed time of 7:30 p.m., Molinier lie down across his bed in front of the mirror and shot himself in the mouth. This was the last encounter of Eros flouting Thanatos, eye to eye, until the final spasm of detonation. Baudelaire would have surely hailed the courage of this dandy, who lived and died in front of his mirror. An artist’s scruples, a last concern for his appearance prevented Molinier from photographing the fatal moment. It would have been easy for him to use string to attach the trigger - although he would have surely preferred the term “finger piece” – to attach the finger piece of the revolver to the cable release. He didn’t do it, undoubtedly so as not to leave the subtle operations of development and printing in the hands of strangers. What does exist, however – worlds apart from the Molinier method, for here, nothing is touched – are the photos for the Criminal Records Office. Only a handful of us have viewed them. A drizzle of blood runs from his nostril, another from the top of his skull. The gun’s kick sent the barrel back out of his mouth, and the Colt lies on his chest. One bullet and sputters of a flash were enough to wipe out any misunderstanding.
Dennis Nilsen quoted in Brian Master – Killing for Company:
When I had the privacy of my own room as an N.C.O. sexual expression became more complex. The novelty of one’s own body soon wore off and I needed something positive to relate to. My imagination hit on the idea of using a mirror. By placing a large, long mirror on its side strategically beside the bed, I would view my own reclining reflection. At first always careful not to show my head, because the situation needed that I believe it was someone else. I would give the reflection some animation, but that play could not be drawn out long enough. The fantasy could dwell much longer on a mirror image which was asleep.