‘Created Equal’ by Mark Laita

American Photographer Mark Laita has compiled an incredible archive, now published as a book, entitled ‘Created Equal’.  A unique record of socio-economic dynamics across America that depicts its inequalities and celebrates it’s cultural diversity, his photographs examine his subjects intimately as individuals and as products of their environments.  The subject of inequality in America and across the western world is a controversial one as it implies responsibility on the part of an individual and the state, pointing to wide reaching political and social implications and the subjects of privilege and poverty, entitlement and earning are hugely divisive.  A myriad of factors have decided the fates of each of his featured subjects, presumably some within and some out with their control.  There is sometimes a tendency to judge others from the cold perspective of an outsider or by referring to figures and generalisations.  Disadvantage is sometimes disregarded on the grounds that intelligence, virtuosity, morality, and resilience are essential to success and to achieving the illusive American dream.   Laita’s images eloquently document the complex position and sense of each person which is revealed through, stance, clothing, body type, age, body art gesture and other unique idiosyncrasies.  He pairs them up because each set has something in common which he leaves unexplained.  As we look through his multiple photographs we get a cumulative sense of similarity, of inequality and cause and consequence.  You can’t help but speculate on the circumstances that lead to ones position in life and to reflect on ones own decisions and circumstances.   Each pairing shows two people or groups who are incontrovertibly linked yet their worlds are stratospheres apart.  Conjecture and judgement based on these images let us mull over what led to some being conventionally successful and some being completely marginalised- informed and logical choices, family circumstances, geographical location, religion, health, mental health, prejudice, hatred, intelligence, aspiration, pride, addiction, self belief, encouragement, abuse, trauma, fear, ruthlessness, neglect, wealth, poverty, genetic predisposition, effort, apathy.  His simple format, lack of context and sharp focus confronts the viewer with a stark reality and a direct encounter with the complex lives of unique people that comprise society at large.  Perhaps it will serve as a valuable record of our times, perhaps it will provoke questions about how we ascribe responsibility for the circumstances of the privileged, the destitute the ruthless and the exploited.

 b created equal, amish teenagers:punk teenagerscreated equal fur trapper:woman with dogcreated equal beauty pageant contestant:topless dancercreated equal french chef:short order cookcreated equal mariachis: elvis impersonatorscreated equal southerner:hassidic jewcreated equal company presedent:janitorcreated equal astronaut:alien abducteecreated equal bullrider:rockmusiciancreated equal bullrider:rockmusiciancreated equal homeless man:real estate developercreated equal babtist minister:ku klux klancreated equal marine:war veterancreated equal, bank robber:deputiescreated equal gang member:mafiosocreated equal county fair show contestant:cajun mancreated equal ballerina:boxercreated egual polygamist:pimtCreated-equal-mark-laita-1

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