What is identity?

Marcus LyonIs identity given or created? asked Marcus Lyon in his TEDxExeter talk earlier this year. An English photographer (originally from Exeter) he is married to a Brazilian woman. When their British-born, Brazenglish children started to say “nos somos Brasileiros” (we are Brazilian) it sparked the idea for his most recent art project.

Marcus started his career with Amnesty International and The International Children’s Trust photographing street children in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Through three decades of work across the Americas he became fascinated by how differently north and south Americans identify themselves. Whereas in the United States people seem very attached to ideas of a motherland – being African American or Italian American for instance – Brazilians are simply Brazilian. 

In Somos Brazil Marcus has gone beyond photography. Each picture is accompanied by a DNA map and an audio file, so you can see a breakdown of each person’s origins and hear them speak about themselves. The project was recently featured in the Guardian, where you can see a selection of the photographs from the exhibition, with genetic origin and sound.

You can find out more about the exhibition at Marcus’s website.
Watch his TEDxExeter talk: Is your identity given or created?

Other TEDxExeter blogs about identity:

Visions of a future without origin stories and identity myths by Chetan Bhatt

Work life balance: balancing identity or balancing time by Michelle Ryan

Making IT beautiful by Matt Hayler