Searching for Identities

Installation views, Sweet Lies. Rethinking Identity, Ludwig Forum Aachen  © Photos: Simon Vogel

In the search for ourselves, we constantly strive to belong to groups that represent our Identities. The difficulty lies in the fact that these group affiliations not only provide for the unfolding of individual identities. It can also limit them. For identities are hybrid entities, constituted by various fundamental and interlocking, sometimes contradictory parameters. Accordingly, identities function only in the plural. The plural form emphasizes that identities are fluid constructs that can change over the course of a lifetime. Identities are divided into personal (self-image, habitus, etc.) and collective (tradition, language, origin) aspects. Collective identities in particular rely on the sense of Belonging to groups, which take place in recourse to exclusion mechanisms, which in turn can lead to experiences of discrimination (based on Gender, origin, Race, etc.). Some of these characteristics are mutable, others are not.

For example: they identify as cis male, heterosexual, White, atheist, European, blue collar. In doing so, they also simultaneously define what they are not: You are not a non-binary person or cis/trans woman, you are not, for example, homosexual, Black, devout Christian/Muslim/Buddhist/Jew, etc., you are not American/African/Asian, you are not an academic. Over the course of your life, some of these identities change, making you feel that you belong to other categories, e.g., by completing a degree and henceforth seeing yourself as an academic and/or by converting to a faith and/or finding yourself to be homosexual.

The human I does not form a homogeneous unit, it is to be understood as a multiplicity that cannot be unified. Each person consists of many different parts that result in individual identities. However, these are not static, some of these categorizations have to be exchanged and replaced by others in the course of life.

Chuck Close

Richard, 1969

Johannes Grützke

The Death of Socrates, 1975

Renato Guttuso

Banchetto funebre per Picasso (from: Il Convivio), 1973

Fang Lijun 方力钧

Series 1, No. 2, 1990

Robert Morris

Untitled, 1978

Megan Rooney

Old baggy root, 2018–2020

Raphael Weilguni & Viola Relle

Keramikarbeiten, 2021