It’s still all about eye contact and the danger of making it.
(Z.S., ‘White Teeth’)
So, I did yet another photo project. This one is titled ‘Eye Contact’. It all happened very quickly. I was out for a run and, suddenly, the idea was there. Two and a half days (and twenty-six A4 sheets) later, the project was ready.
We’re always in such a hurry, always running here-there-everywhere, always so busy with the everyday routine that sometimes we end up forgetting about the people we have around. We forget that there are people all over the place.
We forget that we ‘know’ these people. We might not know them that well, but we do know them. And yet, sometimes we don’t see them. We’re too busy to stop and look. There is never enough time.
I’m no better than anybody else. I, too, am in a hurry. I, too, fail to stop and look, more often than I’d be proud to say.
So I thought I’d give it a try. For once, I thought I’d take a closer look at the people around me. I thought I’d try and imagine who they are away from the usual ‘setting’ of the everyday: white desks and laptops, white kitchen tables, meeting rooms, Facebook messages and the like.
I tried looking at these people and, just as I did with edition no. 1 of ‘Pictures of You’, I chose to describe each person using one of photographs. And, yes, of course people are much more complex than that, and you can’t sum them up in one snapshot only. A whole album wouldn’t be enough. But it’s a start.
With the people I have around every day it was easy. I sat them down at a table in small groups, and handed them their respective booklets. My favourite part was the silence that followed the handover itself. The people would open the booklets, and take a few minutes to read the introductory note. As they did so, eyes down on the page, I would throw swift, furtive glances at them, trying to read the looks on their faces or imagine what crossed their minds.
As for the people I don’t get to see every day, I took a trip to the post office, and posted the booklets I could not deliver in person. I’m happy to say that the ‘Eye Contact’ project has reached five countries and two continents.
I am not sure I got the photo descriptions right. If I did, I am not sure I got it right with everyone – but I tried. And if, by looking at their own photo, these people will glimpse even the tiniest bit of themselves in it, I will be happy. And grateful.
Grateful I am anyway, because I sneaked them into this project without them knowing, which might not sound cool, but oh, it really was.
Bobby, Cube, Mis, Laura, Michela, David, P, Petr, Adele, Davide, Ire, Salva, Simone, Ali, Pat, Luci, Nizar, Ladi, #Magdi, Mariia, Luis, Zobni, Ken, Andi, Trubi, Robi –
The ‘I couldn’t have done it without you’ statement is often highly overrated. Here, though, I wouldn’t know how to phrase it differently because, really, there is no way I could have done this without you.