ALTER EGO: I IS ANOTHER.

A photographicexhibition by Jocelen Janon

What is a stereotypicalNew Zealander?

That’s the question French-born photographer Jocelen Janon explores with his exhibition Alter Ego: I is another, at The Digital Darkroom from July 9th.

A “New Zealander” is mainly represented as a“person of land” by the mainstream media – however in the 2006 census, 86% of New Zealanders live in urban areas. With this in mind, Janon’s project discovered the sort of imagery or iconography this large percentage of people would use as their “alter ego”.

A project born from the examination of public faces of people and what lay behind this, Alter Ego captures the transformation of Kiwis into their “other I” (the translation of the Latin “alter ego”), as they engage the creativity in all of us and the desire for freedom of expression. What results is two fascinating portraits of over 60 different individuals that stand alongside each other; a juxtaposition of the public face and the face that lies within.

“In many cases whilst photographing these people”, Janon reveals, “I concluded the alter ego was the real person and the conventionally presented person was their second choice. In other cases, it was about fun and theatre much in the same way David Bowie or Split Enz adopted this for the drama and controversy.”

Born in Champagne, France, Jocelen Janon is a documentary and portrait photographer interested in recording change and continuity in society, particularly in New Zealand, where he has lived for more than 10 years. A keen photographer from an early age, developing this passion having joined a proto-communist French photography club, Janon graduated his home town’s Ecole des Beaux Arts (Art School) in 1989 – in a time where photographing meant film photography and spending great amounts of time in labs, developing black and white photographs.

Having moved to Paris and taking a sabbatical from the world of photography, Janon returned to his passion (and profession) in 2000, making the transition to digital photography and having his photos published in a cookbook in 2002. He intends to follow this with the publishing of his very own book, Alter Ego: I is another, based on this current exhibition later this year.

His distinct style led to his first exhibition in 2011, Roman Rigodons, taking audiences to a world of illegal vendors and fake centurions around the Coliseum in Rome. 2011 marked a big year for Janon – not just with his debut exhibition but as a finalist for New Zealand Geographic photographer of the year. 

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