kay mei ling beadman video ho wto passport photo identity duality ancestors

Reproduced on their own, you can't tell whether these paintings are any bigger than a passport photo, so I'm in this shot to give a sense of scale. I was looking at unadorned, head-on, identifying  photos - passports, ID cards and closer to home, old family photos where relatives are standing to attention and looking unsmilingly straight ahead, from a generation where a camera was a luxury and a photograph was to be taken very seriously. In the first of these paintings the face started life in colour but became black and white to emphasise the link to old photographs. A recently published article described the passport photograph as "the most universal and democratic form of portraiture" as well as the "brutality of the photo booth." I wanted to appropriate the ID format with its harsh rigour but scaled up to alter the relationship with the viewer, make it more assertive. These works are less concerned with a literal identification and more with the idea of the image challenging the viewer to ask "Who is this person? What do we know about them? What can we know about them?"

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