This section points out that photography is not always a true depiction of who we are, we can shape and mould our identities to fit a certain image, which may then be recorded by a camera.
Nikki S. Lee
For her ‘Projects’ this artist would observe the style and attitude of almost every group or stereotype out there and then she would incorporate herself into the group by dressing and speaking like them. By playing different roles, Lee questions her own identity by transforming herself into other people’s identities. In an interview with The Creators Project (1) she says; “there is a Buddhist saying “I can be someone else and that someone else can be me as well.” Thoughts like this one – thoughts that cause you to view yourself in other people’s shoes – were my main focus, so the people play a significant role.”
These photos are part of the ‘School girl project’, she dressed and actually went to school with these girls for a few days then she took the pictures.
I don’t get the sense that Lee is being voyeuristic or exploitative. More that she is inquisitive, curious to know what it’s like to be a part of another culture (Lee is an American of Korean origin). She takes pictures of various groups of people that we see everyday and share our lives with, but we don’t really take the time to learn and experience that culture. Maybe it’s about being accepted whoever you are and where ever you hail from, she also proves the point that the camera does lie.
Under the sign of Scorpio (2005)
“….at this stage I have told very few of the Scorpio women that I have included them in this photo series (I have met about eight of them). The last thing one should do is flatter a Scorpio; they immediately get suspicious, and depending on their mood, will hate your guts for it. It has taken me years to learn to graciously accept a compliment. Growing up in the rough-and-tumble Australian suburbs, I was often mocked for my escapes into fantasy.”
I read this with intrigue. I am also interested in Astrology and studied the subject many years ago. Moffatt, also a Scorpio, based herself in a simple studio at home and “dressed up” as other famous Scorpios. She makes it obvious that she is acting and her performance is intentionally very amateur. She says “In my portraits I have tried to capture their spirit and likeness, but only at a moment’s glance”. She used informal poses and created a comic book quality by adding high-key supernatural coloured landscape backgrounds to the images in Photoshop. She chooses to represent her portraits as “pop figures” – she admired Andy Warhol – but with an air of the unexplained.
I particularly like the contact sheet presentations where the viewer is able to follow the progress of the “performance” before Moffatt selects a pose to use. The added colourful backgrounds of her images really do portray an astral feel.
In this series Moffat does not reveal anything of herself to the viewer. So for me the title Masquerades is relevant – masked to hide the true identity. These are self-portraits that can be used to examine cultural differences, identity, fantasy and the many ways in which a person can be (or wants to be) represented.
Nikki S. Lee http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/videos/nikki-s-lee [accessed 14th Sept 2016]
Tracey Moffatt http://www.roslynoxley9.com.au/news/releases/2005/07/10/94/ [accessed 14th sept 2016]