The issue of Identity is a complex one. Identity consists of innumerable defining characters that make up the whole of who we are in any given moment. These fragments of self-include our sexuality, gender and sense of belonging to a particular culture, nation, religion or family. It also includes our looks, personality, beliefs and fears and is “an unfolding story…continuing recast in the course of experience.” (Sennett, 2000: 176-177). Identity can also be influenced by the work we do, our education, the car we drive, the home we live in and the clothes we wear. Identity is also determined by perspective. Our self-image can be entirely different to the way we are seen by a colleague, partner, friend or parent who all have their own lens of perception through which they view us.
One definition of identity is the persona we project out into the world. It is suggested that we don’t have much control over our identity creation as we think, as today more than ever we are being increasingly influenced and bombarded by a multitude of messages and experiences about who to be and how to be. Current forms of social communication processes, particularly mainstream media, advertising, television and film, along with family, friend, teachers, our perceptions, perspectives, interpretations and assumptions, and those of others, all play a part in creating identity.
The question I need to ask is: How do Artists explore the characteristics that determine our social identity. How they construct a sense of who we are as a society or as a nation. How they explore and attributes such as gender, sexuality, race, nationality and heritage. The communication they use to interpret the cultural artistic and social endeavour such as technology, politics, style, music, performance and the arts.
Art explores many elements of life and the world. It explores and represents meanings in which are interpreted by the audience in various ways. Artists use different techniques to enhance their own individual message or perspective, whether it be distinctively clear or subtle. Artists such as Martin Parr and Nick Danziger explore identity of the individual by representing life’s journey through the technique of photography. Whilst Grayson Perry explores identity and what is represents through different forms of art, whether as miniatures, large tapestries, statues or pots.
Art is the representation of the many elements of human life. It is the expression of emotion, the representation of life experiences and it can also be the representation of people and events. Identity can be represented as well as constructed in the arts. Many do this in diverse and individual ways. Martin Parr’s artwork is acclaimed to be brash, colour-satured images of the lives and foibles of regular folk. Nick Danziger’s photo montage illustrates a very different approach to represent and construct his identity. His artwork explores the traditional view of Britain as a once-grand, now-declining nation and the life’s journey each must take in order to construct one’s true identity. Grayson Perry, winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, uses the seductive qualities of ceramics and other art forms to make stealthy comments about societal injustices and hypocrisies, and to explore a variety of historical and contemporary themes.
However, it is not only these three artists that explore identity. There are numerous artists who explore identity in a variety of ways. Some more subtle than others. This is because identity can be explored in so many different ways.
Identity can be defined as individual characteristics by which a person is recognised or known. “Art is a mirror image of a person’s identity, circle of influence, and perceived worlds or realities. Art reflects what we feel, think, practice, believe or image.” (Gaskins. N, 2010). Both Martin Parr and Nick Danziger represent their