Kept distant; them, they & the others
I aimed to create a portrait series that looks at people as people, focusing on individuals and blurring out signifiers and labels by means of tightly composed portraits.
In this installation a series of images is projected, amplified in size to confront the viewer. This video transitions between different overlaid images, creating a fluid, continuous idea of each person. The images provide a glimpse of the dozen takes of each individual who participated in the project: they are a conversation between myself and friend, acquaintance, or stranger.
From my outsider perspective, the complex diversity of the people of Toronto, their physical segregation, and the labels associated with neighbourhoods often perplexed me. Such ethnic divisions do not exist in my home of Jamaica. At times I have been made to feel unwelcome by slights or expressions of disbelief about my heritage. The discomfort of projected cultural identity, combined with my observations of what seem to be disconnected individuals in the city, made me ponder the experiences of others as well as my own. The identity of an individual is complex, and cultural representation even more so. To fixate on and restrict people by labels limits the multiplicity of dimensions by which identity is formalized. How an individual chooses to express this is an ever-changing dynamic process that adapts to every interaction.
A more intimate portrait of each person, something we would imagine without a second thought if we looked beyond our assumptions about difference, is what I try to create here. The contact sheets from every sitting are included to showcase the visual and oral process and dialogue that resulted. My choice is to utilize an antiquated format of capture; analogue as a medium becomes an analogy for the trials in the complex dialogue of cultural identity and the individual. Through my practice of photography, the challenge is to move beyond a fixation on the single image, the single idea, or the single assumption held when viewing a portrait or a person.