What My Parents Want Me to Be

When I Grow Up, A-Z

 

What My Parents Want Me to Be When I Grow Up, A-Z, is a series of alphabetical self-portraits fabricated from various mass media sources. The A-Z collection of photos, deals with childhood expectations and clashing worlds of the adult and the child. A-Z is what happens when childhood dreams, parental expectations, reality, and desire combine. The child sees the adult through often-idealized eyes, failing to recognize the actual person behind the image. In A-Z, real and imagined worlds collide as an exploration of what it means to be an adult, and how one attempts to exist in the realm of adulthood.

These often loaded images act almost as caricatures of the idea or occupation they portray. Since the images are somewhat archetypal and extreme in their depiction of stereotypes, they point to the artificiality of the original construct. Through costume and stereotype, these images question popular notions of identity, status and ideology. These images play with perceptions of specific occupations, and in turn, examine various codes of behaviour and expectation. By pointing to stereotypes and hyper-masculine ideals, I seek to redefine the nature of masculinity and redefine what masculinity could be. The images are filled with superlative and almost fantastical elements, and do not attempt to depict a true sense of reality or occupation. While these images include certain things my parents may have wanted me to be, the photos also represent ideals to which virtually no parent aspires for their child: a rough and sexy worker, a fireman with his pants down, a ventriloquist, or a magician.

After so many years of questioning by my parents, I too have begun to ask myself, "What am I going to be when I grow up?" This perpetual questioning leads me to ponder just what exactly occupations are. What does it mean to pursue a career in the business world or some other part of the world of masculinity? In essence, I attempt to try on the various guises of occupations and put my own twist on them. Through self-portraiture, I explore the nature of my relationship to the world around me. This exploration combines the self and what is considered the 'other.'

A-Z is a conscious attempt to encourage reconsideration of the self and the other, to break down the dichotomy that protects us from what is outside. In truth, there are likely aspects of each one of these images in me, yet neither individually nor collectively do these images, or any images, encapsulate the complexity of human identity. In short, these images are reductive representations, which point to their own reductive qualities.

Each digital photo in this series is 4 x 6 inches (10 x 15cm.) This body of work was completed in 2001.

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