Conversion on the dance floor - Nr.55
By Amit Epstein | 20/01/2011
I've been writing so much about identity, about the meaning of identity, the importance of one acknowledging his or her identity on the national level as on the private level and I've spent more then one post on the way identities change and grow when put in various contexts and tests.
Photo: Amit Epstein
This week, as I was looking for a new pair of glasses, I've realized something about the linkage between aesthetics and identity;
They say that clothes make the man, they say that there's no second chance for first impression and in the bible it is even written that a person that does not take consideration in his appearance, shows no respect to god. The way we look, the way we present ourselves, has an impact – stronger then meets the eye. It is obvious that the skin-tone (or for that matter any other clear physical ethnical feature) may determine future possibilities, and it is known that there are dress-codes which may clarify or end any prospects in certain societies. Working as costume designer for the stage, I have naturally come to the conclusion that dressing up or dressing down) is a mean of communication. I actually believe that people – ordinary people – may be considered curators, to some extant, as they curate their ensemble and exhibit on their body who they are, where they come from and/or (sometimes it contradicts) where they wish to belong to. I fully understand why slogans on T-shirts are most effective – it is one thing to put a sticker on your car, but it is a whole lot more to cover your breasts with someone's opinion or promotion. It doesn't even have to be political, it can be a label, which is supposed to indicate our financial state and status.
I was sitting (and often nervously standing) at the optometrist's shop for hours, watching my face telling me stories; once I seemed to be a lawyer, once a poet, once I thought of the young Yves Saint Laurent, once of Ze'ev Jabotinsky – my face transformed so easily as existing elements were underlined or eradicated, that I myself was convinced from time to time that this pair of glasses will turn my life upside down, or at least will put me on a different track. Where am I heading? I was asking myself, the optometrist and other clients – no one could solve the mystery, though some contributed vivid associations. I traveled through time, professions and characters; it was an astonishing journey in which I was revealed to myself, not as an actor changing masks, but as a person who has various options to live his life. It was essential to the point of confusing me so much, I felt haunted by my own identity and at the same time I felt so powerful, as if I can reinvent it all, rewrite it, and own it. The power of aesthetics, I thought, is a power which might be over-looked by the observer even when it's in your face – or in my case, on – but it goes deep from the surface into the core of a being so you better know who you are.