Identity Screening I Series
Identity is perhaps the essence of individuality which is shaped by many different factors such as one’s background and history. Yet, identity of an individual is constantly evolving by everyday experiences and interactions. It is a complex and fluid phenomenon which makes us unique individuals and different from one another. In today’s society, true identity of individuals is often overlooked and replaced with simplistic stereotypes that are solely built on outer appearances. People are often categorized into groups and pre-judged based on their external features, most commonly their skin color. Identity Screening is a series of two-layer silk screen prints on paper, mounted on wood panels, overlaid with acrylic wash and coated with epoxy resin. The first layer of the screen prints features hybrid portraits constructed from different body parts of various individuals of different backgrounds, symbolizing the complex nature of one’s identity. The second layer is a flat color which is silk-screened on top of the first layer, masking these bodies and symbolically undermining the complexity of these individuals’ true identity. The images play with our assumptions and the ways that we tend to frame an identity without considering the complex ways that it is actually formed.
Although memories are essential to understanding our contemporary selves, one also has to relinquish aspects of the past in order to be fully present. Going through old photo albums that she had once carefully put together, Yousefian revisits these treasured containers of memories, cutting out faces and places with which she had once felt a strong attachment. Some of the pieces in her Memories series are also coated over with multiple layers of resin to further distance the viewer from these representations of memories. The effect is to both preserve this archive of sentiments and attachments, but to also embrace the passage of time and fragility of memory. Her work in this series evokes a holistic approach — the idea that represented in each face, place, and memory is the entire composition of a life.
In Fading Memories series, Yousefian employs the same technique as in her Self-Portraits series, creating “negative collages” by cutting bits and pieces out of different negatives from her old photo albums of friends and family and glueing them back together in new arrangements. In her previous Memories series, she uses her original album photos to part with her past memories which have been preserved in these images. In this series, she takes it one step further and uses the negatives from which those images were reproduced, thus eliminating any chance of reproducing the destroyed album photos.
The Self-Portraits series derives from a desire to communicate and express Shadi’s concerns with personal and social issues of contemporary life, particularly, the struggle to understand and articulate cultural identity. In this series, Shadi uses photography as a medium for self-expression rather than mere photographic representation in order to express the complexity of her feelings towards her subject matter. Working directly with film negatives, she creates “negative collages” from which her final photographic prints are made; these negative collages are made by cutting, scratching, applying glue and then printing from reassembled and manipulated negatives. The emotional impetus for defacing and distorting some of the negatives convey the anger and discomfort Shadi felt at the time; this process suggests her ill-ease with two identities to which she felt no clear sense of belonging. The viewer becomes witness to her struggles to create and compose a dualistic identity that results from a crossing and clashing of cultures.
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