Gillian Iles
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Body of work: Want to Be

part of   Want to Be considers individuals' choices and methods for publicly presenting and representing themselves.
The paintings are interpretations (cropped, rearranged) of group photographs found on the internet. These images appear to be posted with friends and family in mind yet, by doing so the subjects elected to have these images publicly available for scrutiny by anonymous strangers around the world. Was that the more important intention? People want to be, and images (of themselves) viewable in a public forum are the means to confirm this, elevating them above insignificance and anonymity. Still nothing is known about them. Everyone has assumed a role for the camera. In so doing the image becomes a skewed or even false record. The photograph is nothing more than a superficial account of the subject. Conformity, composure and congeniality are the public's expectation.

An individual has been removed from each picture and replaced by my own image. I am personifying socially expected and /or privately desired generalizations of identity (E.g. desirable, successful). Achieving what you want to be can be that simple. There is freedom of identity amongst strangers. One can be anything. This new identity is as believable as the perceived identity of the surrounding strangers. This superficial portrayal of adjectives, instead of complimenting the superficial nature of the initial scenes, assimilates awkwardly into them creating new flawed scenarios. These new portraits with their flaws and incongruities achieve a sense of private individuality that was absent in the originals.

Having perused hundreds of random images from personal photo collections, magazine advertisements and web postings, patterns began to emerge. A generic ideal began to manifest itself. People or a personality was the intended subject, but that was not the source of the pattern and regularity. It was the regularity of certain backdrops, costuming and contexts within these random photo sources, which represent a desired ideal. Everyone wanted to be associated with certain contexts and imagery. Photographs are a physical record of a person's identity and existence. They are a selective and idealized portrayal of a subject.

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