Laís Pontes "Born Nowhere"

The power of the ability to curate a life is visible in Laís Pontes’s photographic series “Project Born Nowhere” that exists on social media. The artist edited fourteen portraits of herself to create fourteen unique identities and a Facebook page for each. Working off of self portraiture, Pontes transforms herself in a way similar to the transformative works of artist Cindy Sherman. For each photograph, Pontes dresses up and digitally edits herself. Here, she transcends ethnicity and personality to crowd-source identity. After creating a headshot of each person, Pontes adds the photo to the “Born Nowhere” Facebook page. She invites the Facebook community to look at the photo and describe the woman’s interests, history, background, and more. The collectively perceived identity becomes the identity the artist uses to curate the rest of her character’s Facebook page. For example, Pontes created a woman called "Ana Cristina." Facebook users commented on the photo and decided she is:

33 years old, used to be a very shy girl since she always felt like the ugliest one of all. Due to her lack of social skills, she was a great student. Accepted at all the best universities. She went to Stanford and later became a secret agent. She shed her inhibitions and displayed openly lewd behavior which she had kept hidden for years, especially when she got drunk, which happened quite often. Dyed her hair and got a tattoo to assert her freedom. Loves to go out with dark and brooding men. Her next mission is as an undercover waitress in a small town in the States. Born nowhere.

Another one of Pontes’s characters is drastically different. “Catriona Born Nowhere” is a 30 year old Middle Eastern heiress and fashion designer living in New York City. Pontes shows her audience how easy it is for others to create a false self on Facebook and how much we can gather about an identity from how one portrays oneself online. Furthermore, perhaps the best exhibition of the artist’s success is the Facebook community’s interaction with her pages once an identity is created. The artist invites users to experience and interact with her Facebook profiles, many users believe each to be a real person. Recently, on Ana Cristina’s page, Pontes uploaded a picture of an ultrasound with the caption “Christmas came early... I will never be alone again! Happy!” Twenty-nine people liked her update and others commented by congratulating her or asking the gender of the baby. User’s interactions with Pontes’s pages showcase what Facebook allows it’s personality-anonymous users to do in a more exaggerated way.

Stacy Born Nowhere

Amber Born Nowhere

Shena Born Nowhere