Artist Statement About: My People

My People are more than small objects placed in scenes and then photographed. I am not simply recording a factual moment. My photos are not objective. I have heard photographers talk about being objective and of “recording” or “documenting” life. While I think that certain types of photography may come closer than others (like journalistic or street photography), there is no way a camera can act independently, the artist’s hand is in every image in some way. Art reflects the artist even when we try to be objective; there is no such thing as objective art.

My People are real. I perceive them to be real in many of the same ways I perceive actual humans to be real. They have expressions that hint at their personalities. The colors and the scenes and the lighting are tools I use to bring My People to life. I place them in such a way that their realness can be enjoyed by others. I see My People as frozen moments in real life, and while they do have personalities, these are moments that I have sculpted. My People are stand ins for actual people but unlike actual humans, they lack the ability to act on their environment. My People are quiet.

My People have identities, which I attempt to uncover and expand upon. I think that all humans struggle with questions of identity, searching for meaning in their own existence. Many aspects of identity are found in relationships: who am I in the construct of this society; who am I as relates to you; who am I as a result of external factors; who I am when I am alone? I recently heard video artist Omer Fast say that “Identity is a performance”, which is something I really believe. My whole life has been a series of roles, some played more authentically than others, but all intertwined in some sense of my authentic self. My People also play roles, but they do it statically and they are incapable of inauthenticity.

I enjoy scale shifts and challenging perspective. I like the idea that depending on where you stand (or whether you stand) things can look very different. I remember being small and walking under tables. I also remember the day I bumped my head on the table because I was finally too tall to do that anymore; the world would never look quite the same again. As we go through life our perspectives necessarily change, but sometimes it can be interesting to look at things from a different angle, height, or at a different scale. Sometimes simply observing with a different attitude can dramatically change the way things appear. As an artist I try to bring those attitude shifts to the viewer directly in ways that perhaps their own eyes would be unable. My People ask you to believe that you can still walk under tables.

Julie Caples 2015