i’ll admit it: i’ve always had a bit of an issue with what i call subcultural “uniforms”…the typical pieces that persons who subscribe to certain subcultures feel they need to wear in order to identify or fit in with said subcultures. i feel as if the constraints of those “uniforms” are often too rigid, and the members of those subcultures sometimes abhor any deviation from said uniform by other members, at times considering any inkling of diversity, difference, or attempt at personal interpretation as a threat.
i suppose that i personally i just don’t like the idea of a uniform because i don’t like the idea of being pigeonholed, the idea that anyone might think i’m into one thing or another just because of a thing i might don on a given day. i’d like to be just “me”. i like to keep people guessing, or like to believe that i do inside my own possibly addled mind (ha!). in reality, i admit fall into certain stylistic habits…and i know there are similar folks to me out there in the world. and i guess it’s okay.
the simple fact is, such subcultures and uniforms exist. no matter how original one might think they are, they can often be grouped with people who express their personal style in a similar manner. we are all likely to be part of some fashion or style “tribe”. and honestly, many people like to fit into a category or a subculture. it’s just the way it is.
it’s scientific: the human mind seems to delight in the act of categorization…our brains seem hard-wired to collect similar things of any description (or even ideas) and display them together of think of them as related. we yearn to make sense of the world by organizing it.
rotterdam, netherlands-based photographer ari versluis and stylist ellie uyttenbroek have been working together since 1994 on a documentarian-style photographic project called exactitudes (a word that is a mash-up of the words “exact” and “attitude”). the pair has scoured rotterdam and a smattering of cities around the world, gathering people from various social groups that appear to share the same “dress code”. these individuals are styled, posed and photographed in such a way that emphasizes their similarities in the way of outward expression.
over the years, ari and ellie’s exactitudes project has been covered in the press, shown in galleries, and was even turned into a book in 2002. goodness, would i love to get my hands on that!
but, word is, the project is ongoing…
take note, londoners!
selfridges is hosting an exhibition of ari’s photographs. it’s running from february 26 through april 20, 2008. a small video of ari describing the exactitudes project may be found on the selfridge’s site, here.
at the same time, ari and his team will be searching the area around oxford street in an effort to gather more subjects for the exactitudes project.
if you’re in the area…go view the exhibit. perhaps you can take part!