Beyond the Surface

Beyond the Surface

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was - I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

 

Started in 2013, this project was a challenge to myself and the way I used to be scared of approaching people. I wanted to confront myself with life experiences outside my comfort zone, far from the place I call home and far from the faces of people I consider friends.

It was not my first time in New York City. I had already dealt with that overwhelming awareness of being just a dot, a drop in an ocean of people, a nobody.What changed, back in the days of that Autumn of 2013, was a resut of will: I forced myself to interact with this fascinating world of strangers around me.

I had basically decided to cast myself as a peeping Tom, as Kerouac's "ghost".Observing and obsessively looking at people, sometimes hiding myself, sometimes trying to make them notice me. In the end, what I was waiting for was a true, real moment of quietness in the life of these always fast-moving people who are New Yorkers. But still, I kept a safe barrier between me and the subject - a window - which helped to make me feel more confident and also it left the subjects free to have different kinds of reactions.

I did not know who I was then and, still, I keep on asking myself who I am now. 

In my experience, that very quick, instant connection I get with strangers when I photograph them, that moment is the acknowledgement of myself as a person. 

That piece of time makes the "ghost" disappear and adds real value to my own existence.