During the first project, which became known as the ID project, early creative development workshops at Visionary Images discussed the idea that people are judged by how they look rather than by who they really are.
The team decided to challenge these assumptions based on appearance, and took photos of everyone who came into the studio. These headshots were photocopied, deconstructed and used to build new facial composites similar to police photo-fit images. Six were selected and slightly manipulated in Photoshop with the aim of keeping the final composites rough.
The group then devised a questionnaire that explored people’s aspirations as much as it questioned their identity: ‘Does this person have a job? Does this person have a criminal record? Is this person in contact with their family? Does this person have safe secure stable accommodation? Does this person use drugs? Would you be scared being alone with this person on a train at night?’
The team took the six fabricated faces and the questionnaire out onto the streets to survey the local community. The responses were collated as statistics and used on the artwork: ‘89% of people surveyed think I look like a person who uses drugs’ or ‘50% of people surveyed think that I have a criminal record’. The six portraits, each with a response statement, were printed as A3 posters and large-scale vinyl banners. They challenged the audience to accept or reject these judgments and to question or defend their own assumptions.
The vinyl banners were exhibited on the façade of the Richmond Town Hall in Melbourne and in 2002 on that of the Launceston Town Hall in Tasmania. Later, the banners were exhibited outside the Melbourne Town Hall. The posters were distributed to social service agencies across greater Melbourne and the developmental work was shown at a commercial gallery in Melbourne.