Collecting gingers

photo by Charles Heiman, Aug 2010

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.

16 Responses to “Collecting gingers”

  1. Leoni de Villiers 25/10/2011 at 14:44 #

    My kids and I thoroughly enjoyed the segment on 94.7 this morning as I have a 10year old ginger daughter. I have always loved gingers and prayed for a ginger boy. When my son 14 was born, he had ginger tones that changed to dark blond when he got older. I was then blessed with a ginger girl, and the copper tones were so prominent, that I knew they would stay. You are more than welcome to use my Daughter Marli on your website should you be looking for more Gingers. You can contact me on 0766277978 or ldevilliers4@gmail.comm

    Leoni De Villiers

  2. Lee 23/01/2012 at 12:39 #

    Hi Anthea,

    I heard you on the Fresh drive and am very keen to get my son photographed.

    He is 11 months old.

    Please let me know if you would consider it?

    We live in JHB East.

    Rgds,
    Lee

  3. Sarah 29/01/2012 at 20:34 #

    When are you coming to PTA?????????? Loving what you are doing!!!!

  4. Dané Anderson 04/06/2012 at 12:46 #

    Hey Anthea

    I’m also a natural redhead, and would like be photographed – i love your work….and i’m glad that there is someone in SA standing up for us redheads!

    Please let me know if you are looking for more gingers and please let me know next time you plan a ginger gathering! Would love to attend!

    When you have a chance, take a look at: http://www.redhead-world.net/index.php

    Regards
    Dané

  5. Stevo 12/06/2012 at 10:01 #

    I am a balding ginger in Cape Town … hurry before it’s all gone :))

  6. Lynn Stewart 15/03/2013 at 12:58 #

    You have to bring this exhibition to Scotland – the birthplace, spiritual home and origin of redheads – it will be like coming home!
    It took me many years to embrace my red hair and now that it is turning white/grey I am searching for the perfect shade to return it back to its original colour.
    I have to admit though that I was relieved when none of my 3 children were born with red hair although they do have a slight tinge through their hair and all have glorious freckles in abundance.
    The photographs in your exhibition are gorgeous!

  7. rebekah sunshine 15/03/2013 at 23:49 #

    I have a 7 year old ginger girl with hair to her waist and she is sooooo proud she is a ginger and wants to go to the national ginger appreciation meeting in Holland to meet other gingers. You can photograph her if you want she would love it.

  8. Anne-Marie Dyar 16/03/2013 at 00:24 #

    Hi,
    I am not sure if I am too late to reply but myself and My daughter have both natural Red Hair.
    I would love to help you in anyway we could.
    Well done in your Work it is Briliant. :-)

  9. Josh McMillan 12/06/2013 at 20:43 #

    Hi their,

    I am a ginger that would like to get photographed by you. I live in Cape Town. Would it be easy for me to come to JOHANNESBURG or for you to come to Cape Town.

    Thanks for what you are doing
    Josh mcmillam

  10. Kinnery 02/07/2013 at 17:43 #

    Come to Canada! I’m strawberry blonde so I assume I’m low on the ginger hierarchy?

  11. Shayna greenhill 22/07/2013 at 19:53 #

    Hi

    Im a natural redhead and I am going to be doing a speech on redheads

  12. Shayna greenhill 22/07/2013 at 19:54 #

    My drama teacher that I am doing the speech for is your old drama teacher

  13. Emma Peacock 09/09/2013 at 23:11 #

    I’m a natural redhead and would love to be photographed for your project or help in anyway :)

  14. Natalie 30/09/2013 at 19:01 #

    I always explained my fascination with redheads to my European friends by stating that they are a rarity in South Africa. It’s good to see that I have kindered spirits! My final piece in art school was a film in which all of my cast were gingers, including a hand model and a voiceover artist. Alas, with hair as black as mine, I can never really start my entirely ginger production company.

  15. Helena 16/01/2014 at 20:03 #

    I love your work, really, love the pure pics and the idea and everything.
    if you come to germany in any time, tell me :) im also a ginger and my son too :) and i would love to have a photo made by you ♥

    great thing!

    hugs

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