Performing Identity: The Politics of Diversity, and the City

Together the People Festival

Artist Statement: June 23rd 2016, a defining moment in British history is marked on the political geography of the City of Brighton.

The British referendum (Brexit) was the way in which British values found a way to articulate the anxieties of the unheard voices situated outside Westminster’s Political centre

In that moment the invisible aberration of national differences between people was brought into plain as a visible spectacle

“When the history moment is right, the unconscious speaks its own mind” To All Appearances – Herbert Blau.

Nationhood is a still image, in constant motion; it reasserts itself through the palpable discomfort of the residence of this City as we ponder this contemporary moment, the ramifications of which will have generational consequences.

The City of Brighton has an established history on far-reaching international connections. This project sets out to examine the performative nature of self-identity both as it asserts itself and redefines itself in the context of those connections.


Proposal : The styling of the body offers an opportunity in a fragmented way of exploring the performative nature of identity.

Identity’s performative nature is securely cited in an interpolation negotiation between a host of moveable signifiers which in themselves operate as a continuous interchange between the past, present, place, wearer and viewer.

The sign of identity is a tribal signifier, locally conceptualised which generates its own its own authentic copy as individual style

In the light of the current European migrant crisis, and more recently issues related to Otherness  brought to the fore as a result of the EU referendum. This project sets out to examine tribal signifiers in the context of this political backdrop and in relation to belonging.

Nearly a half of the BME community living in city centre wards are ‘White other’ (9,475 people, 46 per cent of BME residents) accounting for 12 per cent of the total population in the area.  Brighton and Hove Report of Statistics 2014

This project continues the direction of my developing Practice at the intersection of identity, place whilst referencing the past. I have a keen interest in photographing the different cultures in the city, be they are a new migrant to the city or a long-established members of the city’s community.

Method: Environmental portraits of 5 – 10 individuals in the city, a place of their choice which is meaningful to them this opens a dialogue between us regarding their place is in the City in terms of a sense of belonging, how they now regard others and/or how they feel others now regard them.


selected for Submission

working methodology: Environmental portraits of individuals from elsewhere currently based in Brighton at their chosen location in the City, generally between 8:00 – 11:00 am with one Basil being taken at 4:00 pm.  Given the environmental nature of the photo shoot and my desire to include a strong visual presence in the City has meant that the earlier the photo shoots have taken place the greater the control over elements such as traffic and people the, especially when standing in the middle of roads!  in the very central parts of the city, however at that time there will still be delivery and or workman traffic occurring.

In terms of the British weather it has also been earlier when the weather presents as even and not bright sunlight aka the Bechers i.e. Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher.

I have a systematic approach to my environmental portraiture series which is after Thomas Struth’s, Unconscious Places 1.  Struth typified the nature of the city which meant he worked with economy.

In this series of works the city backdrop is the sitter surmising the nature of their presence in the city. Compositionally I work with economy and precision making comparatively few photographs whilst minimising the potential interruptions of the city to the central focus of the sitter.

In conclusion, the performative nature of identity is ever-present, in this project those subtleties are overtly brought to the fore in the choice of codified object or garment denoting the idea of the self in the present place.


photo shoot #1 230716

Photoworks & Together the People_JosefCabey_forIssue

Post-Brexit: “I feel disappointed to hear about increase in attacks on people from elsewhere. It has made me realise that all those folks who joke about political correctness are probably suppressing some real unpleasant views”


photo shoot #2 270716


Post-Brexit: “I realise there are a lot of people who feel I should not be living here and it has made me, for the first time re-evaluate how I feel about living in the UK”

“Most people were voting on immigration, I find it difficult to understand the some people feel that being different is somehow taking something away from who they are…”


 photo shoot #3 300716

Gil MualemDoron_Final

Post-Brexit: “Coming form an environment where there are differences between black, brown and white Jews, Brighton is relatively welcoming”

“I am intrinsically in favour of difference”


 photo shoot #4 010816

Edi Mandela_final

Post-Brexit: “


 photo shoot #5 020816

Post-Brexit: “I was scared taking the bus the next day after the vote, I was feeling the everyone was watching me, because I am not British, I didn’t feel that way before the vote”


 photo shoot #6 020816

Post-Brexit: “when I’m here people assume that I am part of the Brighton Landscape, they do not know I’m french unless I speak, then they I assume I have citizenship, in the UK “


 photo shoot #7 020816


Ricardo Atxikarro Photoworks & Together the People

Post-Brexit: “The difference post-Breix is the shock.  My main consideration is I am considering changing my Nationality back to a Spanish as my parents live in Northern Spain”


 photo shoot #8 050816

Line Matson_Final

Post-Brexit: “It has been weird post Brexit when travelling from UK, I have felt I am not sure if I am able to get in again.  I haven’t felt a lot differences since I have a sort of British accent and am white. It might sound ridiculous but I wouldn’t be as comfortable if it wasn’t for the ‘ability of blending in’…”


 photo shoot #9 100816



KJ: “I voted ‘IN’ at school.  I noticed the drop in the pound and I am worried about the online racism”

Tammell “I voted ‘IN’ at school.  I thought it would not be as easy to move between countries, as there would be more security”

Sol “I voted ‘IN’ at school.  voting out would divide people culturally.  I also thought the rules in school might change”


 photo shoot #10 100816

Szilvia Juhasz 3

Post-Brexit: “I was talking in Hungarian to a friend, some English people stared at us for a long time, I felt they were judging us.  Friends of mine have said they feel they are not welcome here anymore because they are immigrants”


visual cohesion experiments

no saturated colour

Experiments 01 Photoworks & Together the People Experiments 02 Photoworks & Together the People

reduced saturated colour

Experiments 03 Photoworks & Together the People


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