I COLLECT GINGERS, 2010-13

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500 Gingers sorted by colour, photographed from 2010-13

I started collecting gingers since 2010. Two and a half years and 500 gingers later, I exhibited these ‘self’ portraits at my first solo exhibition at Speke Photographic/ CIRCA Gallery in Johannesburg.

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.

I have collected gingers from all over South Africa, as well as internationally when I attended the Redhead Day in the Netherlands where thousands of gingers from all over the world congregated. It was beautiful, strange and surreal. I felt like I was in a science fiction movie – something out of Gattaca.

A ginger utopia.

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