Tag Archives: symbols

Jason Evans “Strictly”

This series provides an opportunity for me to sort out some of my thoughts on identity, following listening and reading a couple of OU OpenLearn courses, namely Understanding Identity and Identity in Question.

The courses posit that our identities are partly formed from the inside (how we perceive ourselves) and partly from the outside (how society sees us). Much of each of these is unconscious and we have little control over it, but a portion (they mention 10%) is something we are aware of and have agency over. Identity is about both belonging and differentiation, and we show both through actions and symbols which have meaning to others. Think of teen groups, such as punks and emos as examples.

How we prioritise the elements of our identity depends on the situation (place) we inhabit at any one time, and also where we are in our lives. Two personal examples are shown below, where I have listed some of the more important elements of my own identity in that time and place, in order of their priority at the time.

Some of these elements of identity are externally applied, such as manager, or woman, but others, which may be more important on a personal level, are internal parts of that identity (pregnant, in a relationship).

When applied to Jason Evans’ work Strictly, which was published in the journal I-D in 1991, things get very complicated. Evans was working at the time as a fashion photographer with Simon Foxton and took the typological series for a fashion magazine. The subject is black urban dandies, which is a very particular niche identity, where symbols (eclectic and daring clothing ensembles) are used to express a particular sense of style. I have no idea as to Evans’ ethnicity, but whether or not he is black, it seems highly likely that he has appropriated black dandyism as a means of fashion advertising. The images mix fashion photography with documentary photography in a topological style which has a (false) air of authenticity. Here, we have advertising using identity to both create and sell a certain style, which will apparently make one part of an exclusive group. A great marketing ploy. Fashion, big business and marketing are intrinsically linked in a way that makes people feel both individual and part of a group at the same time.

References

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/evans-foxton-no-title-p11786/text-summary

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/people-politics-law/politics-policy-people/sociology/understanding-identity

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=7152&printable=1

 

 

 

Advertisements

Grayson Perry’s Who Are You?

The two most interesting things I took from this programme were:

  • your home often says more about you than you realise , and
  • that a portrait is a caricature of yourself, and emphasises some traits over others.

I was fascinated to see the homes of the various people he interviewed. They revealed a great deal about the subjects. Chris Huhne’s home was traditionally and beautifully furnished, but there was no sense in it of who he was. Subsequent interviews with him took place outside his home, making it appear that he didn’t feel comfortable revealing himself there. Jazz, the transgender sitter, was mainly shown outside his home in various social situations, and it was clear that his mother felt unhappy about his choices, meaning that he did not feel “at home” there. Perry said himself that the possessions we surround ourselves with are symbols for where we sit, culturally, and symbolise who we are. Each person’s possessions tell a story about them, which may or may not be what they show the outside world. (I am reminded of photos of, for example, the Camerons at home, and what could be gleaned from the bookshelves behind them. Did their image-makers decide what was in those shelves, or were they not considered until after the images went public and people started commenting. And how tidy is that room? Especially as the Camerons have three children.

michelle-obama-and-samantha-cameron-724899070

Michelle Obama & Samantha Cameron at home

Below is an image of my work desk, taken 10 minutes ago. It could not be more different from the image shown above, but it is entirely realistic, and a fair representation of how my desk usually looks. I spend a considerable amount of time each day sitting at it, so there are all sorts of elements of myself there, should one care to look.

_1470333-Edit

For an understanding of the pressure points in my significant relationship, and for fun, here is a picture of my husband’s desk at the other end of the same room. We both work from home. Enough said!

_1470335-Edit

References

Grayson Perry: Who Are You? Episode 1 [television programme online] Pres. Perry. Channel 4 (2014) 48 mins. At: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/grayson-perry-who-are-you/on-demand/55337-001 (Accessed on 20 May 2016)