I have always been intrigued by the subject of identity, it has played a big part in my own artwork in the past and I imagine it will in the future. I’m not just talking about my own identity, but also that of others, it’s an intriguing subject, don’t you think? We are all humans after all but we all see ourselves as certain types of individuals with a certain type kind identity…
Someone who has explored this subject in great detail is Grayson Perry, an artist I have always admired since I first came into contact with his work in 2003, when he won the Turner Prize. You can see here that his identity isn’t what most would consider as the ‘norm’, he enjoys cross dressing as his alter-ago Claire. Grayson recently had a series on Channel 4, called ‘Who Are You?’ where he used his art to explore the identity of others.
The portraits from the Channel 4 programme are all currently showing at the National Portrait Gallery until March. The exhibition is free and the portraits are dotted in various places amongst the galleries collections, which I had the pleasure of viewing last Friday evening. If you are able, I’d highly recommend that you pop down and take a look.
“The fourteen portraits in this exhibition, displayed among the Gallery’s Collection, are not primarily concerned with what the subjects look like. They are images about the nature of identity, snapshots taken from the narratives of people’s lives. Our sense of ourselves feels constant but our identity is an ongoing performance that is changed and adapted by our experiences and circumstances. We feel like we are the same person we were years before, but we are not.”
“For most of us, most of the time our identity works for us so we do not question it. But when it does not feel right, or is under threat, then we are suddenly made very aware of how central and vital our identity is.”