Uniformity (1998-1999) was a “school-year-long” endurance performance based on a conversation with a friend about the notion of self-presentation in the world. For 292 days, I wore the same outfit (even to sleep) consisting of a white t-shirt, riveted belt, grey pants and black shoes. The t-shirt had an image of me wearing that same outfit standing in a “neutral” pose. Everyday I took a photograph of myself in said outfit standing in the same pose in my studio. A few documentary photographs were taken in both Boston and Chicago while I was visiting graduate schools. During this school year I also sold the t-shirts on randomly selected days on campus, sent postcards to all students with personal information about myself on the back (each student received two different messages) and generally made a lot of the student population question my sanity and validity.
The goal of this body of work was to create a dialogue about the conclusions we make concerning others. The conclusions we make stem initially (and partially) from the way individuals present themselves in the world. I chose to make uniform my presentation through my choice of clothing: this practice became absurd and self-obsessive not only through repetition and documentation of the performance, but also through the use of my own image to reiterate the concepts behind the work.
At first, the performance consisted of just that, the obvious performative act of wearing the same clothing everyday. After initiating the performance, however, I saw the opportunity to incorporate marketing strategies and self-promotions tactics. I wanted to re-create myself as a celebrity among a control population. A celebrity becomes an icon. At the same time, people that chose to purchase and wear my t-shirts became walking advertisements. I no longer needed to rely on simple self-presentation as an advertisement of my validity and availability, I came to have a “staff” and propaganda to build and perpetuate my image. When we choose a particular self-image to present in life, we are relying on that image to work as an effective advertisement to entice people to seek us out at a later time. Mass-producing flyers that announced my presence at a specific location and time, and the creation and distribution of business cards challenged the lengths we go to in the name of self-presentation and self-promotion.
The incorporation of the postcards was necessary to further explore the manner in which we come to false conclusions about others based on the information we think we have obtained through observation or an overheard comment. I wanted to aggressively tamper with the ordinary mechanics of this type of information retrieval and extrapolation by mass-producing and distributing personal information about myself to a population over a period of months. This created a bit of notoriety.
All of these elements co-mingled to construct a skewed version of the public-private split. This work looks at the changing status of privileged information that accompanies celebrity/iconic/notorious status. The connectedness that an audience feels to a celebrity or a familiar face is based on fragments of the image the individual puts on.