Every creation requires influence
Formation of one’s identity is a lifelong process which, in my opinion, mostly depends on the type of people and places that surround the person. Identities are socially constructed, never neutral. From the moment we are born, we will be instantly exposed to the influence of others. At first it is our family and teachers that help us learn basic skills such as talking and walking and later it gets more complicated as we are getting exposed to even bigger amount of external influences such as media and peers.
From the moment we are born, we will be instantly exposed to the influence of others
People you choose to be close friends with are always a reflection of your true self, that is why family is not included in this project. They are more of a habit than a choice and for me identity is more about decisions, either conscious or unconscious. I decide to mostly include unstaged portraits of my friends (and also one picture of Paris and one of Barbican) to show their character and visual link between them, me and places we love. Another reason for choosing exactly these pictures of my friends and not any other of them is that I took them on the day we realized that we are becoming friends, not random acquaintances. I see particular beauty in little but crucial moments like that. The same happened with pictures of places that I use for this project. When I took a picture of that moment in Paris, I realized that I am absolutely in love with the city and its’ details and that there is no way back. Barbican is another charming place of great importance to me. Brutalist architecture is a connotation of strength, solitude and beauty at once, just like the traits of character that I would admire in someone.
“…a connotation of strength, solitude and beauty”
It may sound cynical, but looks are very important for me, both in people and cities where I live (that is probably why I am so found of London and Paris, places of incredible architecture and energy, combining both old and modern buildings). I think it is wrong to deny the fact that looks matter as seeing something is usually your first experience and impression of a person or place. Being born an observer, I’m really grateful to have spent my younger years in Russia and France and even to have been forcefully moved here, London. Those beautiful places influenced my taste in terms of aesthetics and allowed me to meet great amounts of people out which only few became my close friends who helped me to become what I am right now. Friends don’t just change our preferences or help us learn more about the world, they also change the way we feel about ourselves and make an impact on decisions that we have to make.
But back to the main point, one way or another we inhabit traits of people we constantly talk to and so do they from us. For example, I have to admit that with time, unconsciously I started dressing more like Eugenia whilst she started reading similar books to me. In case with Ed and Masha it was wine and taste in music that we exchanged that night. Influence of other people on our identities is hard to deny and absolutely impossible to get rid of. By taking all pictures in black and white I wanted them to share the same ‘mood’ and therefore show how similar our characters can appear on pictures without us all actually having similar physique. That one picture of me included in this project was taken by another friend of mine who had such a massive influence on me. We no longer talk to each other, but every time a look at it, I realize how much that person has changed my life although we are no longer friends.
To me relationship between the picture and the image is rather unimportant because the image is more important to me as it is self-explanatory. However, it would also be fair to say that text is usually needed to support the picture, to explain why it was taken and how. In this case the pictures are leading the project and text is there to explain the images. And lastly,the technical aspect of this project- the pictures were taken on the same old film camera using black and white film.