In 2014, Kieran Dodds embarked on the series of portraits depicting red-haired people in Scotland where it is a cliche of national identity. Ginger is a colloquial term for what is commonly described as red hair but the colour is not confined to one culture or place. This new work made for the Flow Photography festival uses the trait to connect two regions increasingly at odds politically - Russia and the West.
A map of red-hair distribution circulating the internet depicts two ginger hot-spots in Scotland and in Russia. Using this as a starting point Dodds created portraits of gingers in two cities at almost identical latitudes but separated by hundreds of miles - Inverness in Scotland and Perm in Russia.
Visually the portraits reference a rich seam of red-haired portraiture in art history that fills the world’s museums but the collection uses the trait to unify people across cultural, political and geographic boundaries. The prints are displayed without traditional framing to reflect this openness and connectivity.
Participants claimed European, Middle Eastern and even Chinese heritage showing the ebb and flow of human migration through centuries and questioning normal assumptions of what contributes to a specific national identity. Names and locations are withheld to allow the viewer to find commonalities while also revealing how our personal prejudices and assumptions inform what we see.
The full selection can be seen on Panos.