Deconstructing Memories and Identities.

Is it possible to avoid the hierarchal categorisation of a person through looking at an anonymous human subject-based photograph?

Western thought organises things in a hierarchal structure; the terms and concepts are organised and divided in to positive and negative. People are classified according to their gender, class, sexuality,race and ethnicity. They are put in categories such as: upper class/working class, white people/black people, men/women, heterosexual/homosexual, old/young.

I started collecting photographs discarded by people in a second-hand shop. At the time the photograph is left in the shop the owner is leaving part of their recorded memories that has perhaps lost value or resonance to them, or within their circle of family and/or friends. In the shop there is a large box of discarded photographs from which I select a handful. Although I didn’t know any of the people in the photographs there was something that resonated with me – I had selected images in which I couldn’t see the subjects’ faces. Despite this it is still inevitable that I end up categorising the people, not just by what I can see of them, but the worlds they inhabit and the things they are looking at. Social class, age, gender, sexuality, nationality, relationship etc. By isolating the subjects from the background I feel that although a level of categorisation remains, it has been duly affected by the lack of contextual environmental information. Even with an anonymous photograph it seems that categorisation seems unavoidable as we innately engage with the photograph’s narrative by considering the full range of information that is provided.