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Alter-egos come out on camera

HANNAH SPYKSMA
Last updated 08:36 11/07/2012

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Stereotypes and the other side of "average" Kiwis are being explored through an intimate photography collection.

Jocelen Janon's exhibition Alter Ego: I is another opened this week at The Digital Darkroom at 273 Dominion Rd and runs until August 3.

The collection of 66 portraits – around 25 of which are on display – gives a snippet into the photo subjects' dual identities.

"I was intrigued by the way New Zealanders are represented in the media – you've always got the Fred Daggs with the black singlets," Mr Janon says.

"I'm wanting to show that people are not all like that. The project evolved from there."

Through research he also discovered that despite rural stereotypes of Kiwis around 90 percent of the country's population lives in urban areas.

The Mt Eden resident spent almost six months searching for models for the shots – he found people largely by word-of-mouth and through networking.

Photos were staged at a boat house in Hillsborough where subjects posed as themselves and then as their alter ego.

Mr Janon gave people all the freedom they needed to capture aspects of their personality with the only rules being no fire, self-harming, or pornography.

"There's a thin line – I tried not to influence them and not to make it like theatre – it's their life and that's what I'm trying to catch," he says.

"Some are very simple, some are very complex and some are trying to escape stereotypes from the average New Zealander."

It's been an observational experience for the French-born photographer who's not trying to draw conclusions from the work but to present a different take on tried typecasts.

Learning and development manager and burlesque dancer Phlossy Roxx was photographed for the series.

She says the exhibition is a brilliant showcase of those who have the courage to be different.

The Newton resident has had an alter ego for several years.

"Being a little different really builds strength of character and confidence in the morals you stand for – it's not an easy thing to capture in a still photograph."

Miss Roxx describes Alter Ego: I is another as "a peek through the looking glass/window at the inside lives of some exciting Kiwis".

The Digital Darkroom is open weekdays 10am to 6pm and Saturdays 10am to 2pm.

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