Photography blogs are boring and make me want to go on a terrible spree. Welcome to the antidote.
Mr Gareth Dutton is away on business at the moment, so he has asked me, GaryDooton, to fill you in on his latest project. I say “on business”, he’s actually sat on the sofa, picking his toenails and eating an entire block of cheese whilst arguing on the Internet about videogames. He is a truly awful human being.
He said it would “particularly apposite” if I explained this project to you, as it centers around the concept of an ‘alter ego’ or the personas we all adopt as human beings; yes, I agree, it is unbearably pretentious.
To be honest, I’m bloody sick of him and his stupid projects. I just want to look at nice photos without having to have some half-arsed conceptual turd smeared all over it. If he wants it to be ‘arty’, just use a shallow depth of field and shoot into the sun; whilst you’re at it, shoot yourself into the sun, you goofy, elongated Poundland Jesus.
I’d better talk about the project now; he’s throwing me suspicious glances between mouthfuls of coagulated cheddar. I think he can sense the hatred. I think he can see the rage in my face. Either that or he knows exactly what I’m typing because we’re the same person. He’s also telling me to stop using so many semi-colons in a pathetic attempt to make it look like I’m brilliant at writing. Fine – I’ll use hyphens instead.
In order to explore the idea of the alter ego, Gareth is focusing on performers and other interesting sorts who have exciting lives: wrestlers, burlesque artists, compères, fringe performers and the like. The idea behind focusing on people who have two (or more) very different sides to them is to demonstrate in a vivid, pronounced way that, by extension, we all have these personas, in one form or another. Gareth hopes that this series will celebrate the idea of an alter ego and show that having another side to you can be a healthy, positive thing and that a persona is a role you play, but not necessarily a lie.
Or some shit.
A whole sodding decade ago when I was at university – back when I didn’t have to stop drinking water before 9pm because “I’ll only be up in the night” – my good friend Bob started calling me Gary. It wasn’t because he didn’t know my actual name, he just thought it would be a good nickname for someone called Gareth. At first, I started correcting him when he introduced me to new people as Gary:
[BOB]: “This is Gary”
[GARY/ETH]: “Well actually it’s Gareth but, yes, nice to meet you”
Eventually, this turned into:
[BOB]: “This is Gary”
[GARY/ ETH]: “Well actually it’s – never mind, hello I am Gary”
From these humble beginnings sprouted the powerful, towering oak of an alter ego that is GaryDooton: a character that evolved from a flamboyant multi-million earning professional footballer, to an undefeated professional wrestler, all the way across the spectrum to a worryingly deific character, embodying the spirit of excellence and self-motivation.
Like I said, it got a little out of control.
Try not to look too terrified, though, as I am fully aware that I am not really GaryDooton. That said, part of me feels like I am Gary now, that he has merged into my identity (minus the excellence and self-motivation). This is the point I seek to make with this project studying alter egos and personas. As Gary mentioned above, I would argue that we all have personas. These personas might not be as literal as those of the subjects of these portraits, but more subtle personas. The way you behave in front of your parents, for example, may differ greatly to how you act in front of your partner. You may even exhibit different personas amongst different groups of friends.
Portraiture is all about identity and portraying individuality, and I am hoping that this series will evoke those themes. This is probably my most involved project to date, as I hope to get the viewer thinking about themselves and what personas they adopt, and to understand that embracing these different elements of your character is healthy and will hopefully make you feel happier in your own skin.