“A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
~ Richard Avedon
Avedon photographed men and women of the American West, focusing on the blue-collar demographic. In other words, people that work hard, everyday. He sought out people at rodeos, carnivals, mining camps, drill sites, slaughterhouses and presented them all to us in front of a simple white backdrop, like specimens under a magnifying glass. He showed us what the boundary of socioeconomic status looks like within the working class of the American West.
I began to wonder how much you could actually discern from a portrait without any background knowledge of an individual. And further, what if all individuals photographed were presented as connected, as ultimately one and the same, like a live human paper doll chain? I decided to build a photo booth that would allow me to photograph everyone under the same conditions, regardless of their physical or social status or attributes. My goal was to present people as connected, despite any manner of boundaries we as a society may have placed on them.
I built a photo booth with specific directions on where to place hands and feet, painted the booth white to avoid any unwanted color contamination, artificially lit the booth, and otherwise allowed people to interact in the space however they chose. I then composited all of the portraits into one single image, connecting people without regards to any known or unknown physical or intellectual attributes.
My goal is to provoke reflection on the boundaries and stigmas we place on one another and to hopefully bring about the realization that we are really much more similar than different.