I was originally inspired to produce this photograph while reading the text accompanying the exhibit “Question by Seller” by Nicky Bird (1)(see my original commentary on this here). The exhibition centred around lots of old pictures that Bird purchased on eBay, in auctions where she was the only bidder. She asked the seller of each lot for information about the origin of the pictures. The text compiled the answers given by the various sellers. There was a case that struck me particularly. It was about a family in Manitoba whose estate was cleared by distant relatives. As they did not know the deceased, they had no connection to the photographs and decided to get rid of them. It then occurred to me that the persons buying these photographs, collectors or otherwise, could develop an attachment to these images, or at least an interest on discovering more about the people and places in them. This curiosity could easily become an obsession, resulting in awkward situations. What if the buyer of these images decided to visit the places where they were taken, completely new to them? What would be the reaction of the occupiers of these places? Would they interpret this as harmless eccentricity? Or would they assume they are being stalked?
We encounter strangers frequently in our daily lives. Most of these encounters follow social conventions which make them bearable, but when we perceive the rules are being transgressed, or when we cannot identify other people’s intentions, we fall back to defence mode and may not know how to react, resulting in moments of anguish and tension. In this assignment, I wanted to explore this through a picture, working around the idea of perception and how uncertainty about somebody else’s intention can shape our reaction to events.
Based on a personal anecdote, I decided that the scene would involve a driver in his car and somebody inside a house looking at him. While I had some preliminary ideas in mind, I was not sure how to frame this at first, so I decided to write two short stories about these two characters, with the idea that the end of the stories, when both characters “come together”, the picture will happen. The two stories can be found here and here.
(1) Question for Seller – Nicky Bird. 2018. Question for Seller – Nicky Bird. [ONLINE] Available at: https://nickybird.com/projects/question-for-seller/. [Accessed 23 June 2018].