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"Ridicule is nothing to be scared of": True Identity can't truly be gazed at, can it?

What is perceived is never exactly the same as what is there in the material sense, but we are still obsessed by gazing, making assumptions about what we see and how people choose to present themselves. It is true that visualising class, race, gender and sexual distinction is difficult without using pre-established stereotypes. However, in this new century, following from a wave of androgynous fashion and evident gender ambiguity or change (especially in the Western hemisphere), is it not fair to suggest that the gaze has become more of a curious one? Everyday whilst passing people in the street, we mentally note, if but ephemerally, who they are under their physical appearance or even if this appearance is, in reality their identity at all. After all what is identity and how to we come to acquire individuality?

Individuality is a social creation, and our individual bodies and body parts are loaded with cultural symbolism: public and private, positive and negative, political and economic, sexual and moral and often controversial. One controversy could be who owns the body? Who can determine its boundaries, its meanings and its values?

We live in a world where our body's age, gender, shape, dress and colour are determinants of our lives and supposed clues of our social identities. It also appears that our chances in life are measured by these unique attributes. Beauty and Ugliness, height and weight, physical handicaps (if any), are prime determinants of the self which effect social responses to the self. Why is it that how one seems to appear is what one thinks he/she is getting? Aristotle said that sight is "the noblest sense…the mirror of the soul, the I". Is what we see a reflection of what we know - or don't know? Is how we see a reflection of our tolerance or intolerance? Can the mirror of our soul gaze at another without employing pre-established stereotypes?
In my present art practice I'm interested in posing questions, not immediate answers about visual identity. I use photography, video and sculpture to challenge the viewer's initial assumptions (usually negative ones), about what they see. After all, we can't walk around with our eyes wide shut. That would be truly boring, erase all elements of mystery and the unknown. Some questions will never be answered, just as common stereotypes may not conform to a viewer's pre-established assumption. We can only wonder about whom one really is, on the bus, tube, in the supermarket unless we thoroughly interview every single person we walk past, every single second of our lives. Nevertheless, we can't deny that we are all inquisitive voyeurs to some extent, myself very much included, especially in an age of growing ambiguity and multiculturalism. The transient glance at the strangest stranger can be a most magnificent and impressive manifestation - or not depending of the viewer's reliance on traditional stereotyping. Human expression as I see it, is totally ambiguous because a certain look to one person may be interpreted by another in a totally opposite way.

Identity and human expression means nothing, a non-indication of the entire self. It is provisional just like a full stop. The next sentence will take nearly all of it back. The voice of self expression may say "I need to say something, just now" It is not forever, not universally true. It is not guaranteed or sealed with a badge of approval. It is now, only here and now. This is what I mean; and for this particular moment, this is who I am. Full stops don't really exist and nor does my image of self identity. We gaze at floating signs and human gestures which are continuously subject to change. What we hold dear in this moment, may soon be rejected and forgotten in the next. Images are constantly changing, ambiguous and misunderstood. Similarly, like existence, the gestural gaze doesn't last forever and the "mirror of the soul" isn't always so highly polished!