Performing identities is a series of wet collodion passport-looking tintypes that revisits this historically significant photographic process to address links between, photography, identity and colonialism, specifically looking at how photographic archives have contributed to the construction of national identities and the consequent notions of us and the other. The series uses the main photographic technique of the Victorian era, once used to write an excluding history of society, to analyse questions on othered identities and portraiture.
Working from a decolonial perspective the production of this series relied on dynamics of mutual benefit, interdependence and collaboration between the makers involved.
The production started as part of the Refugee Week of 2017 and coinciding with my 10th migrant anniversary, where I invited people in my social network to come to my studio and participate in a series that related portraiture with migration. Participants needed to consider themselves as immigrants before agreeing to participate. Therefore, the production of artwork relied on the participants’ initiative to a) consider themselves as immigrants and b) take the time and energy to come to the studio and do a tintype. This interdependence was reinforced by a mutual-benefit dynamic: each participant was welcomed to stay in the studio, learnt about the collodion process and received a copy of their tintype.
In this participatory/performative series, one's national identity is considered a fluid notion, and it's up to the performer/participant to embrace one perspective or another rather than the artist/photographer to establish this for others.
I launched the call in my social network knowing that this way I could reach participants with an interest in contemporary art, probably more looking to have the rare opportunity to learn about the collodion process and having a tintype portrait.
The resulting outcome of this participatory project is an archive of 200+ tintype portraits of arts-related people based in London, who could see themselves as immigrants, including myself. It's an archive of performed self- biographies, using the most archival photographic process, to leave a legacy of a contemporary understanding of identity, photography, and the production of artwork.
Performing identities has been displayed at The Photographers' Gallery, London (UK), at Château Lamazière, Paris (FR), Le Centquatre-Paris in Paris with Festival Circulation(s), at Four Corners Gallery, London (UK), and at Studio BONG Gallery, Florence (IT). It has been featured at Photomonitor, Radio France Internationale, Yogurt Magazine, L'Oeil de La Photographie, Le Quotidien de l'Art, Art Visions and other media. Project participants’ have also been involved in the consumption of the artwork in these places.