What is it during our journey here on earth that makes people, who were all born with clean slates, follow such different paths?
Detroit-born photographer Mark Laita tries to answer this questions in a book containing a series of photos he calls Created Equal. The photos, which compare two people, are a study of how our background, including our upbringing and schooling influence who we become. The result is a violent social and cultural collision. As he tells Turnstyle News, “As I see people I’m amazed at how circumstances, fate or our environment directs us into whom we have become. I am fascinated at how, in America, one young girl grows up to be a catholic nun and another grows up to be a prostitute. What kinds of things happened to her as a child? Is she happy? Is she a contributing member of society? These are my concerns. What judgment am I making by showing these two images together? Does this not actually happen in our country? Created Equal simply shows real examples of these ironic twists of fate. I find people fascinating and these diptychs help to get your mind turning.”
The couple being compared in each photo have a similarity that draws them together while highlighting just how different they really are. As boredpanda.com notes, “the two people being compared in the book “have some kind of a connection that ends up being the biggest contrast between them: for example, out-laws are put next to policemen, school drop-outs next to college graduates, and Amish teens are paired with punk teenagers.”
Mark says Created Equal took him 8 years to complete and was published in 2010. (You can purchase it here.)
“In America the chasm between rich and poor is growing. The clash between conservatives and liberals is strengthening, and even good and evil seem more polarized than ever before. At the heart of this collection of diptychs is my desire to remind us that we are all equal, until our environment, circumstances, or fate molded and weathered us into whom we have become.”
What strikes me the most about looking at these photos is the drastic differences in appearance initially. In some cases it’s as if the subjects are different species. But the more you study each photo the more the similarities outweigh the differences. In the face of the stripper you see little girl she used to be, especially when positioned next to a child ballet dancer. You see what the drunk could have become if he’d chosen differently. Not only that, but you see how closely we’re all linked even though our professions and life choices seem so opposite on the outside. You see how similar the life of a ballerina is to that of a boxer or how closely linked the emotions of a bull rider and a musician probably are; two young men trying to prove themselves to the world. Mostly though, it’s shocking to see so plainly how our environment, circumstances – and our choices – make us so different from each other when we all started out pretty much the same, at least physically.
All photos used with permission from Mark Laita c/o Fahey/Klein Gallery. You can find Mark’s work at marklaita.net
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