Since 1994, photographer Ari Versluis and stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek have been working on their project Exactitudes, where they portray a series of 12 individuals from the same subculture against a neutral white background. The subjects always strike the same pose and wear the same uniform clothing. Over the years, Versluis and Uyttenbroek have made a large number of these series, that together present a view of a heterogeneous society where trends and lifestyles follow each other in rapid succession. Exactitudes can therefore be regarded as a sociological study of multicultural society. The project is reminiscent of Citizens of the Twentieth Century by German photographer August Sander, who, during the 1920s and 1930s, attempted to create a panoramic view of German society. Citizens of the Twentieth Century was a project of great historical value, documenting the latter days of the Republic of Weimar and the rise of the Third Reich.
In its own way, Exactitudes also captures the spirit of an era. It is an archive of different segments of the population, whose collective identities are emphasized by the way they are juxtaposed. Versluis and Uyttenbroek make it painfully clear that adopting an identity may not only be liberating, but can also bring with it the restraints of a straitjacket, that is, in wanting to stand out from the others and be unique, people assume group identities. This carefully constructed identity is not based on individual choices but on a complex system of cultural signs that identify a certain subculture. Exactitudes attempts to expose these signs and trace their common denominator, as if man were a collection of data that can be described with metadata. Exactitudes visualizes the complex relationships between individuality and collectivity; the thin line separating authenticity from fake.
Exactitudes – a contraction of ‘exact’ and ‘attitude’ – is a photography project that systematically documents groups of identities, in which the heterogeneous, multicultural street scene has been a major source of inspiration: the people portrayed have literally been ‘picked up from the street’. DEAF03 will present the series Gameboys. By registering the subjects in an identical framework, an almost scientific, anthropological record is provided of people’s attempts to distinguish themselves from others by assuming a group identity. The project is a photographic archive showing typologies in the form of photographs grouped together.