Plastic People

We are living within ideological constructions which, by posing as ways of being ‘normal’, permeate our existence unawares to us. In modern society we are subjects of dualistic hierarchies which force us to privilege certain notions over others by positioning ourselves against the opposite or alternative.

These ideas perform their influence upon us since the day we are born. They work their indoctrination from within all spheres of society we become a part of; the family, our peer groups, schools, workplaces, secular and religious institutions, the media, corporations, the global market etc. They work on the mind as well as the body, they conform us into living lifestyles and holding beliefs that are often contradictory. Through this process we become palimpsests, constructions formed and molded by indoctrination.

We privilege wealth over poverty, norms of beauty over norms of ugliness, man over woman, conformists over non-conformists, organized religion over rational interpretation, individual rationality and science vs. traditional and mystical forms of knowledge and human civilization over nature. We become ossified in our thoughts, burying our capacity for reason and choosing the comfort of social conformity. In a society in which the possession of privilege becomes the main determinant of success, we become both the oppressor to those below us, and oppressed by those above.

In our consumerist, utilitarian society, purchasing power becomes one of the primary ways in which we can aspire to a higher position within the status quo. The market becomes one of the primary means within which our ideal image is constructed. It performs a function whereby we are given the chance to appropriate higher levels of culture and privilege within the power structures that we are a part of.

In this series, a work in progress started in early 2016, I try and see the inherent contradictions of our aspirational selves as built by the marketplace, looking at mannequins as a symbolic representation of the perfect human palimpsest/subject as situated within our current social/cultural framework.


Words and Photographs contributed by Halik Azeez

Edits: Saniya Rohida

Abdul Halik Azeez is a street and documentary photographer. He has worked as a journalist, economist and a development sector consultant. He currently does research on racism and new media discourse and is a Master’s student at the University of Granada, studying English Literature and Linguistics. Halik is known for his Instagram account (@colombedouin) and his work has been exhibited in Sri Lanka, Dubai, India, Greece and the UK.

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