Exactitudes (= exact attitudes), by photographer Ari Versluis and stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek, is an exercise in style (or rather was, from 1994 to 2002 - it is now present online, in a traveling exhibition and in the form of a book). Style is what makes the person unique, but also, quite paradoxically, what makes her so easily categorized. Some say the search for identity isn't at all a search for authenticity (which is a controversial concept), but rather, a search for style. Identity, here, would mean a sort of a definition that allows one to make a drawing. So here we have it, those young boys are making the drawing of themselves - they are getting themselves defined, they are become unique, and totally anonymous at the same time.
It is quite an exciting balance/game/tension, between the self-as-unique and the self-as-participating. Exactitudes shows it clearly. Maybe a little too clearly. It might be because the work is somehow dated, and that, beyond the fact that styles have evolved quite a bit (another proof that identity might be more about style than we think). The pictures, their esthetic qualities, but also the way it was made: the styling, the forcing into categories. Is it necessary? The argument, found in the "about" part of the page, that everything is stylized anyway, simply doesn't seem enough. That's why the groups that speak most to me are ones where the difference, and the similitude, are there, impossible to hide, like in the Tattoo Babes series, or the Dreads one. The others often seem forced, as if the similarity sometimes wasn't enough and needed to be underscored - and it really needn't! Maybe in these two cases, the presence of the naked body seems like something more honest, less manipulated? Then again, come and think of it, the tattoos could be fake.