COLLECTIVE IDENTITY

Shayla Lugay

Portraiture is often utilized by artists to put a spotlight on the life of an individual. Examples of such portraits are those commissioned by kings to legitimate their rule, and even self portraits, where the artist seeks to explain their own, individual identity to the viewer. But by including many individuals posing in similarly, artists can explore the "power and beauty of collectiveness." Collective identity is the shared sense of belonging to a group. This sense transcends the individuals in a group, and the combined unit speaks not to you as an individual, but to you as a member of society. Rather than focus on each figure's identity, the viewer instead contemplates the bond between the figures.

OSAMU YOKONAMI

Yokonami is a Japanese photographer, born in Kyoto in 1967. His two published monographs, 1000 Children and Assembly, use simple compositions to contemplate the place of the
individual in society.
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To shoot this series, Yokonami selected girls from junior high schools and high schools across four districts of Japan. He let them play freely in carefully selected landscapes and stood
a distance away, waiting for just the right moment, just the right frame. By shooting from this vantage point, “the existence of each person disappeared and the existence of the group
appeared instead,” Yokonami explains. The captivating beauty of the group emerges, with a strength and depth that the single posed figure cannot communicate. Similar to minimalist
artists, Yokonami uses simplicity and ambiguity to make his art more universal: The absence of manmade elements makes the locations hard to identify, and by not showing the girls
faces and having them wear their school uniforms, they too take on a guise of ambiguity.

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In 1000 Children, Yokonami creates arrays of portraits of young girls in identical poses in front of crisp, white backgrounds. Similar to Assembly, the exhibition creates this bond between
the school children posed in the array, but here, the face of each girl is the focal point of the individual portraits. Now the viewer has the ability to clear away the foggy ambiguity created
by viewing the girls from afar by moving themselves close enough to observe each child's unique, expressive face. Now, instead of erasing the figures' individuality, the uniforms draw
our attention right to it. The girls look nothing alike. What Yokonami has done here is genius: he's found a way to express the beauty of human similarity and individuality in one installation.

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CARLOS HACHE

Hache is a contemporary graphic artist based in Madrid. This is the only information that can be found on him. It's unlikely that the lack of available information
on both Hache and Yokonami is intentional, but I feel that it adds to the haunting, elusive feeling of their artwork. It's as if they don't want to muddle the works
crisp simplicity with how they feel about their art, or their own identities.
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Carlos Hache creates beautiful compositions working with just the primary colors on white paper. This simplicity reveals the universality of life.
To achieve the ambiguity of the individual in a group, Hache uses a minimalistic style to represent the human forms. Similarly to Yokonami, the
figures in these poly-portraits wear identical or very similar articles of clothing, alluding to the shared experience of the individuals.
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RODOLFO MORALES

Rodolfo Morales(1925-2001) did not comment on the beauty of human interconnectivity in a detached, distanced way like the two previous artists.
Morales was very active in his city, Oaxaca. After studying- and then teaching- art in Mexico City, Morales began to auction his art and became a
wealthy man. But, he did not forget his roots. Morales returned to Oaxaca and set up a foundation that helps the locals tremendously. The foundation
renovates churches and cultural spaces. A permanent staff of architects and experts oversee the projects, but the restorations are done by local
youths hired for the jobs, most of whom are young women. Once the job is finished, they can easily find work: They're now qualified antique restorers.
Morales also taught many young artists in his city how to make art. He left his home to Oaxaca when he passed away, one room of which is a computer
classroom, created so that the young adults in his city could have access to what he believed was "the future." His style was not minimalist; instead,
he filled his canvases and frescos with many bright colors and busy compositions.

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Women fill up almost all of the space on of this fresco. The women in the foreground holding flowers and appear to be very busy preparing for a festival.
But they aren't the only busy bees. The middle ground is what appears to be the city square, packed with a huge crowd of women, getting ready for the
festivities to begin. In the wooded area, women are emerging, possibly from outside the city to take part in what's to come, while other citizens tend to
the trees. Not a single figure is acting alone: this is a community. The women are interconnected through love for their city and for their culture. To
Morales, women are what keep the Oaxaca community together. In the blue sky, another crowd floats overhead: a crowd of the community's ancestors.
Morales included his own face twice in this mural: in the arms of his late mother on the left, and in the upper right corner. I believe this was his way of
coming to terms with death and becoming a member of a new community.

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By painting many women instead of just one, the viewer doesn't try to identify who the women are; instead, the group takes on the identity of Oaxaca
women as a whole, and the situations he places the women in speak to the importance of women in Oaxacan communities.






SOURCES:
<http://cnnphotos.blogs.cnn.com/2014/07/20/assembly-the-collective-identity/>

<http://cnnphotos.blogs.cnn.com/2014/07/20/assembly-the-collective-identity/>

<http://carloshache.tumblr.com/>

<http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/87-rodolfo-morales-mexican-artist-1925-200>


<http://oaxaca-chapulines.blogspot.com/2011/02/ocotlan-and-rudolfo-morales.html>