Alix Smith

Constructed Identities_3
© 2018 Alix Smith

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School of Visual Arts New York, NY
MFA in Photography and Related Media. Expected graduation May 2005.

Bowdoin College Brunswick, ME
Bachelor of Arts Degree. Major: History, Minor: Art History. Sarah & James Bowdoin Scholar. May 2000.

“Constructed Identities”

This body of work explores the concept of constructed identity and to what extent society determines how people will live their lives. I am using formal portraiture, the cinemagraphic genre and the archive in order to subvert the language, and speak about the lack of individuality within the greater society.

As we become active members of our community we become entangled in social roles, obligations and limits. As one concedes small personal desires in order to appease one’s social group, one begins to feel boxed in, conformity perpetuates itself and as time goes by one accepts ones life regardless of the original intention.

Historically, traditional portraiture’s function was to illustrate the subject’s uniqueness, displaying the subject’s wealth, class, status, and profession. Mimicking the classic portrait, the subject’s hands rest together, their legs or ankles are crossed, and they are sitting up straight. The subjects are presenting themselves to the camera in a formulaic way. Through camera angle, lighting and framing, the background begins to seem like a stage or movie set. The subjects are positioned in the foreground in order to separate them from their surroundings. Placing the viewer outside of the space.

Through repetition I am taking the aura away from the portrait as a precious object, as well as dismantling the uniqueness of the individual, and controlling the reception of their legacy. One image can be interchanged with the next, and the individual becomes one of many. The subjects function like objects in a still life, in a beautifully designed interior, in order to represent the idea of social conformity.

Studios of Alix Smith

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