In evolutionary terms, Joly asserts that we are merely “sophisticated versions of our animal kingdom counterparts”, and that our basest instincts render us afraid of being seen as the weak member of the herd. Darwinian natural selection genetically conditions us to ensure our success and survival by adapting to our surroundings, which in a modern context equates to conforming to accepted ideals, shaping ourselves to meet the standards of others.
Social media has played its part in perpetuating unrealistic, and often unachievable, standards against which a whole generation compares itself. The emergence of apps that allow us to slim our bodies, digitally alter our surroundings and free ourselves of the blemishes of reality are testament to our paradoxical pursuit of perfection.
‘Being Human’ throws societal ideals under the microscope, and gives us hope that our fear of judgement and the ensuing need to maintain a ‘stiff upper lip’ is misplaced. Leading by example, Joly has created an open dialogue where shame has no place. He asserts that “the confidence to bare our souls comes with age and experience, and the wisdom that we ought to wear our emotional scars with pride, as they represent challenges we’ve overcome not moments of failure.” His own inimitable style of tackling social commentary through the medium of observational art takes the sting out of the message it delivers. Despite the often introspective subject matter, we are left feeling renewed by the warmth and humour in the art, safe in the knowledge that Joly not only accepts our faults and flaws, he celebrates them.