I.D. Photo Badge Portraiture

24 January - 15 February 2014
Press release


RICCO/MARESCA GALLERY is pleased to present I.D. Photo Badge Portraiture. The beginnings of photography were often marked by portraiture, providing a true likeness of an individual for the first time. This collection of 250 photo identification badges, manufactured between the 1930s and early 1950s, constitutes a collective portrait of the American worker. These vintage badges, from a possibly simpler time, were all that was necessary to prove one’s authentic self and place in society.


The concept of identity is increasingly complex. Contemporary identification badges such as Facebook and other social platforms on the Internet give us the false impression we have complete control over our private identities, while at the same time, we are forced to take extreme measures to prove our public identities. We once believed a vernacular portrait was sufficient in proving identity, but now we are faced with the conflict of proving who we are in a world where the theft of identity threatens us each day.


These faces, combined with names and companies or job titles only provide insight into the societal and political aspects of everyday life. Though we will never know of their private identities, the badges have a humanizing affect. We align our own conceptions of the self and consider how we create identity, or how it is created for us.

Installation Views