Lately, all we hear about in the nightly news is conflict and clashing between social classes and political leaders. What we all seem to forget, amidst all the fighting and disagreements, is that we are all human; as the American Constitution states "All men are created equal." As proof of this point, photographer Mark Laita has released a book, aptly titled Created Equal, filled with images of people from different economic backgrounds, races, religions, and professions placed side-by-side.
Laita's intention with this passion project is to express how we are all the same in spite of the growing schism between classes and political affiliations. He situates an image of a polygamist adjacent to that of a pimp. It's a controversial composition, but the placement draws a similarity between the two men, attempting to show that we have more in common than we think.
Each of Laita's pairings make the viewer think and question similarities and differences between the subjects. Though the differences between a ballerina and a boxer jump out at you, the diptychs cause the viewer to think about their likenesses. Why are these two paired up? Laita admits that his images are all interchangeable, which is a testament to his project's statement about equality, but he still put in a lot of effort to find the right couplings. A ballerina is generally a feminine figure who poses gentle qualities, whereas a boxer is a masculine figure of strength. However, they both share a grueling workout regimen, a strict diet, and the ability to be light on their feet. The photographer discusses some universal similarities we all share:
"All people on Earth, even radical Islamic fundamentalists, strive to be fulfilled. What constitutes fulfillment may differ somewhat from individual to individual, but shelter, food, companionship, and happiness are things most of us wish for our children and ourselves. Every person in this collection is aiming toward that goal. Some feel success or money will bring happiness, others seek food or drugs or fame. This collection of photographs looks at the many different paths Americans take while trying to achieve that goal."
We really loved this series and wanted to know what else is in the works for the Detroit-native. We were lucky enough to get in contact with Mark and he kindly let us in on his future plans: "My second book, Sea just came out a couple weeks ago. It's a collection of images of marine life. I'm always working on something, so I'm not quite sure what will surface first."
Motorcycle Gang/Alter Boys, 2004/2005
Baptist Churchgoer, White Supremacist
County Fair Livestock Show Contestant/Cajun Man
Baptist Minister/Klu Klux Klan
Homeless Man/Real Estate Developer
French Chef/Short Cook
Fur Trapper/Woman with Dog
Amish Teenagers/Punk Teenagers
Mark Laita's website