5. Constructed Identities

How do you decide how to be photographed? Do you consider who your audience will be? Do your choices in clothing, pose, and gesture change depending on the intended use of the photo? Artists and photographers make choices that respond to a wide variety of criteria and that often relate to their own interests and experiences but also to their circumstances and historical context. 

Several works in this exhibition examine how images contribute to the construction of identity. We often take photographs at face value and assume they present an unadulterated and truthful view of reality.  

That is exactly the point addressed in works by Ethan Murrow, for instance, whose Dust Mine Marketing #2 at first glance looks like a period photograph, but that upon close inspection we see is a staged scene created in 2007. Murrow appropriates the language of documentary photography to question how historical events are represented and memorialized through images. Through this critical approach the artist turns the medium on its head—the focus is on the image making process.  

Are there other images here that show a similar approach? Are photographs more reliable than paintings when considering how they construct identity? Several works in this gallery—paintings and photographs—examine the notion of constructed identities. The selection invites you to consider how you construct your own identity through photographic images. Are there any similarities you can identify with these works?