The end of June saw the launch of Phase II of the photographic exhibition, Representation on the Line: (Un)framing our Identities. Whilst Phase I was launched as a satellite event for Photo London in May and featured 24 photographers’ work, filling the basement of the old telephone exchange in Chelsea, Phase II expanded to 90 women, filling the ground floor too.
A call out was issued to photographers of all ages and levels of experience, to submit work that exemplified what identity means to them. From the group Milk and Honey, a young collective of female photographers working with Photofusion’s community programme, to the award winning documentary photographer Carol Allen-Story, the exhibition (which is currently touring) showcases the work of emerging talent as well as established artists. Equally, by involving photographers from all over the world, the international scope of the exhibition beautifully encapsulates the diversity of cultures across the globe.
An element of the show that stood out to me was the importance of self-expression, whether through make-up, objects or clothing; the ability for material items to change the way we feel and perceive ourselves demonstrates the relationship between visual expression and identity. Whilst in contrast with material expression, there is an exploration of identity when elements such as props, beauty products and clothing are stripped back, showing it at its rawest and most vulnerable.
Given the scope of the show, a range of important topics concerning identity including gender, culture, stereotypes and mental health, to name but a few, were brought to the fore. One recurring topic that captured my attention being the role social media plays in how we perceive ourselves. Given the pervasive use of technology in our day-to-day lives, the impact of platforms such as Instagram and Facebook on our sense of identity is unavoidable; the person we want to be can be carefully crafted through social media, detaching our online identities from our real-life identities. Moments in the exhibition cleverly depicted the effect of this in a way that made me rethink my relationship with these platforms.
– Chloe Fox