Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Grayson Perry: Who Are You?

At the weekend I went to the National Portrait Gallery to see Grayson Perry's latest endeavour. In collaboration with three Channel Four programmes he's done a series of 14 artefacts exploring identity in the modern ages, which are dotted around the first floor of the gallery in amongst the classic portraiture. I've always found Grayson Perry's accessible approach to modern art really interesting, he doesn't attempt to be grandiose or difficult, although sometimes his work can feel slightly unimpressive. He was exploring the "fault-lines" of identity, using Islam converts, transgenders and plus size beauty contest contestants as his models. Photographing drag queens throws up a lot of questions about how to interpret gender and how someone identifies their own/other peoples gender, it's something I want to discuss with the next people I shoot because I think that's where I can get a more raw side to my portraits. The idea of how identity can be curated and controlled whilst simultaneously being something external to you has always fascinated me, and the way the pieces were curated showed this off expertly in my opinion. You started at the bottom of the stairs with A Map Of Days, a map of internal emotions/struggles that I guess make up Grayson Perry. Then you ascend the stairs to a massive tapestry filled with icons/phrases that are quintessentially British, which I also recognised as a bank note because of the queen on the right. You started with an internal rumination on who you are and then went on to what external choices, conscious of unconscious, can be used to label you.

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