We think of our identity as personal yet so much of it may well be constructed for the benefit of others (individuals, organisations and cultural hegemony)…
In this workshop task you are asked to create a mechanical* montage of yourself and one of a close friend or relative. This montage should seek to be all that a passport photograph is not – something which tells us of the complexities of identity rather than attempt to provide neatly packaged information for digestion.
*Mechanical montages are made with paper and glue rather than with digital software – allowing a less linear manner of working to take place. Scan the montages afterwards to share online.
Any size, shape, style you like – experiment with the inclusion of your own work (Steacy) and the use of words (Scott/Goldberg). These can be as aesthetically neat or messy as you see fit – perhaps some inspiration can be taken from the likes of…
Jo Metson Scott (The Grey Line)
Grayson Perry (Who Are You?)
Will Steacy (Down These Mean Streets)
The Identity Project – Sarah Deragon
The Identity Project, started in 2014, is a project which aims to explore the labels that we chose to identify people with to do with trying to define gender and sexuality. It started when the photographer put a picture of herself, entitled ‘Queer Femme’, on Facebook and then called for participants for the project.
The photographs, although minimalistic and a bit generic, challenge how we think about people and make the viewer think about how we label people because of how society thinks of them. The aesthetic of the images reminds me a lot of the features you see in magazines where trend spotters will stop people on the street, ask them about what they are wearing and photograph them on the street. This, I feel, makes the images relatable because people are used to seeing these kind of photographs in everyday life. However, what sets the images apart is the accompanying text that allows us to see how these people label themselves or have been labelled by society. This again makes us think about why we create these labels, what characteristics of the people cause us to make the labels and what makes us think that we can give people these labels. I think that because we aren’t used to seeing these labels along with the images, it grabs our attention and makes us look which then leads us to think about it more than we would if it was just the stand alone images.
The images, a mixture of black and white and colour, show different people who are all labelled differently, along with the labels that they have given themselves or have been given by society. The labels these people have given are technically part of their identity and I think that this project allows us to challenge what these labels do to these people and how it affects them. For example, do they adhere to the rules that come along with these labels or do they try to act as if they don’t fit into the labels so that they don’t get perceived as being part of something that society has tried to form them into? Do they like these labels? If not then why not? Do they find it offensive or do they like being given these labels because it means that people have noticed them? I feel like this project could be extended into so many different forms of identity and not just about gender roles and sexuality because there is such a broad spectrum of elements that make up our identities. This would enable us to think about how we label people not only to do with their sexuality but also other things like their race, political preferences, etc, as this would mean that we get a better understanding of society and not just the LGBT community.
The images on the website, as seen above, are laid out in a grid formation which is I think a way of showing all of the people as being equal no matter what label they, or society, have given them. This looks at not only identity in the sense of how society sees people but also in how we see ourselves and our ‘tribe’.
Kurt Schwitter’s influential pieces are considered some of the most beautiful and accomplished collages of the 20th century, according to The Guardian. The artist was a key figure in European Dadaism, the group that invented the concept of Merz; which is the combination of materials for an artistic purpose and is something that has been adopted by many artists since. The materials used within the collages include basically anything that Schwitter could get his hands on that would work for the conceptual pieces that he created as he thought of them as just as useful as paint within the creation of art. He used many found objects and everyday materials to create pieces within different mediums including abstract collage, installations, poetry and performance which shows that he was not afraid to experiment between not only different materials or objects but also between different genres and types of art.
The collages that Schwitter created show great creativity and understanding of what works together, and equally what doesn’t, along with an approach to art that I highly admire; experiment, experiment, experiment. When we see collages today we do not give them as much value, necessarily, as they would have in the time of new stages of the art form being developed because back then they were just that: new. Now when we look at collages they are associated with what you create at primary school in a mood board type style with cutting and sticking being the only skill needed. However, this is not the only skill required to create an effective montage/collage because to make it interesting it needs to be well thought through with the curation of the images and objects used being one of the most crucial things. Schwitter’s skills of not only selecting the pieces to use but also how he put it together would have been revolutionary in the time of their creation. This was just something that the Dadaists did; they revolutionised art. Collages were just one way in which they made art into something new and challenged the previously quite stoic rules that ‘beautiful’ art followed.
I like the idea of using 3D objects as well as 2D images and paper cut outs because it is a way of showing nearly every aspect of something instead of just showing us pictures of it. I would like to use physical objects in my piece for this week’s task because I think that it is a good way to show not only images of things that make a person who they are, it also allows you to show the physical things that we use in our daily lives and the things that we hold dear to us which essentially tell people who we are.
The Holy Bible by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
“The book takes the form and text of the actual King James Bible and is even printed on Bible paper. Where it differs is that Broomberg and Chanarin have inserted images on every spread selected from the extensive collection of The Archive of Modern Conflict. The selection of every image took the original text as a starting point and was guided by philosopher Adi Ophir’s central tenet: that God reveals himself predominantly through catastrophe and that power structures within the Bible correlate with those within modern systems of governance.”
This project is something that I have always been interested in, not just because of the great concept, but also because of the clever presentation and layout of the book. I have created something very similar to this before by creating a series of images that were based around spirituality and then I experimented with them post print and then stuck them inside a bible to try and show the differences, and similarities, in religion and spirituality. This project opened up this presentation style for me and I have been using it ever since. When I saw this book in print in a library in Dublin I got to see just how impactful it is. The contrast between the idea of religion being a peaceful institution compared with the conflict in the images causes just that; a conflict. It allows us to see how the two ingrate and makes the viewer think about the binary subjects that are a regular subject in both the news and in everyday life. I think that the presentation method is a great way of creating a direct comparison as well as showing that two things are linked. I do, however, think that the method used by Broomberg and Chanarin of printing the images onto the actual pages looks a lot more professional and neat compared to when I have just stuck images into a pre made book. However, sometimes this can make the work seem like the artist is trying too hard to make them work together instead of showing them as exactly what they are; different. I think that using this method to create my montages would be a more interesting piece to look through compared to if it was a cut and stick style collage like that of Kurt Schwitter or Hannah Hoch as you can pick it up and look through it like you would a normal photo book; it would be almost as if you are reading the book of a person’s identity.
For this week’s task I wanted to create pieces that portray myself and my mother. However, I didn’t want to create a traditional cut and stick montage like that of Kurt Schwitter as I feel that this can sometimes look a bit childish and I wanted to be a bit more creative.