Invitation & Artist Statement for "People"

December 19, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

"We're born naked, and the rest is drag."

 -- RuPaul, Drag Queen

Who we are as individuals is shaped by the interplay of social scripts that we learn, practice, and ultimately make our own. There are different socially constructed scripts for men and women, for working class and upper class people, and for people of different races and ethnic groups. As we perform these scripts, they get inflected by regionalism, family life, national identity, and a complex web of cultural and religious symbols. Our identities are never fixed, given, or "natural." They are fluid, learned, and performed; but when performed well, we begin to think and feel that they are natural and inevitable. This is their blessing and their curse. They make us, and then they bind us.
People is a collection of "street photographs" that invites us to reflect on how human identity is a performance, an improvisational enactment of socially inherited scripts through which we establish selfhood and configure our relationships with the natural and social worlds.
The street photographer roams the streets, usually working with a small camera and short lens, looking for that "decisive moment" (Henri Cartier-Bresson) that proves illuminative of some aspect of human experience.  Street photography holds a mirror up to society, showing us the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the humorous and the serious, and everything in between. Street photographs often have an element of lyricism and humor that gently pokes fun at us and the little ironies and contradictions that we readily ignore in daily life. But within the lyricism and humor is an embrace and celebration of life amidst these foibles and follies.
As a street photographer, I am drawn to musicians, street performers, artists, and people whose faces, bodies, actions, or attire are unusual and intriguing. Such people invite us to see and reflect on the inherited scripts of our own identities that so often bind us unreflectively to convention and conformity. My hope is that these photographs will call forth a sense of playfulness about ourselves and a critical awareness of the ambiguous power of our inherited scripts to bring forth both genuine meaning and inauthentic living. Ultimately, People is a summons to explore our own identities, and perhaps, it is even a summons to perform them in more elastic, authentic, and generous ways.


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