I have been collecting gingers since 2010. Two and a half years and 500 gingers later, I manifested these familiar, ‘self’ portraits at my first solo exhibition at Speke Photographic/ CIRCA on Jellicoe (Jan-Mar 2013).
As a ginger myself, what initially interested me was the beautiful, romantic colour palette of a ginger person and all that it connotes. It was only after my first photography session with seven gingers that I began exploring the innate sense of community and collective experience that emerged from the ‘otherness’ of the gingers. Through my process and the final display at the exhibition, I begin to construct a narrative, an imagined history and hypothetical future, as well as a system of classification around this self-identified ‘race’. I use this minority (2% of the world population) and mythical (historically considered witches and demons) group of redheaded people to highlight the obscurities of racial classification and discrimination which remain prevalent globally today. Working in South Africa, a context that has historically been obsessed and oppressed by skin colour, I suggest an ironic alternative to genetic and pigment-based racial profiling. I started to imagine what a world governed by gingers might look like and what its implications would be.
Hierarchy remains in this ‘ginger utopia’, and there are levels of sub-classification within the ginger ‘race’, ranging from Strawberry Blonde to Dark Auburn. The ginger history, ginger manifesto and ginger identity cards – which form a part of this body of work – act as satirical subtexts to this imagined narrative that I have created.
To date, the collecting process consists of photographing the gingers in a studio with stark lighting and white clothing. The head and shoulders shot is reminiscent of a passport photograph and is clearly meant only for the purpose of documentation. Sample shots of their hair, skin and eyes are taken and a strand of their hair collected. I also conduct a video interview with all my gingers subject where I learn about the universal ginger experience.
I am always looking for more gingers. It is my goal to travel to collect thousands of gingers from all over the world. Please be in touch if you are interested in getting involved.