What is Identity.

I recently watched a Grayson Perry documentary: ‘Who are you?’ as recommended by a university lecturer. The topic of the documentary was about personal Identity and how we want to be perceived by our peers. Grayson Perry created different portraits of his subjects depicting how he sees their identity.

Earl of Essex’. Reality star Rylan creates an alter ego and talks about the online abuse he receives. ‘Ryan’ would be reduced to tears if he had to endure it. However ‘Rylan’ is complacent. He uses his other personality as a coping mechanism. Perry created a beautiful portrait of Rylan, it really speaks for itself.


‘I am a man’. Perry interview and sketched a young man who was in the process of gender reassignment from woman to man. The subject was in no doubt that they were born a man. They were confused and frustrated with how society expects him to turn around and say ‘Oh it was just a phase, back to normal and being a woman’. This prtrait was about forced identity. Being who other perceive you to be, because what you want is not deemed normal. Instead of what you feel is your own identity. Society pushes the idea of normality onto you and is intimidated by any leave of that structure.


‘I sometimes think the most dangerous words are normal and natural’. This is something that Perry stated in the documentary and that is when I started to realise the whole point of his project. It is a good way of describing how easy it is to think what you are doing is normal, when in actual fact it may be other people that are doing the un-natural thing. It’s just that their group is far larger than yours. How do we define what is normal?

Identity is how you perceive yourself and choose to display that to the world. Sometimes we show ourselves for who we really are. Sometimes its someone else that comes across entirely. Even though this focused on Identity, it really made me question, what is normal and what is not?

Link to watch Grayson Perry’s ‘Who Are You?’