When I stepped back in Montreal there was a feeling of comfort. The fulfilment and excitement that arouses when we finish a task, a mission we were not sure how long would least but it was finally done and we are finally coming back home.
Unbeknownst for most and myself there was also an anew feeling, as if all was the same but not, a book you remember very well but now the narrative is a movie sort of feeling, do you know what I mean? If not, try reading Game of Thrones and watching the series. You will understand that although is the same story the story isn’t the same and so far we can not say for sure that they will both end the same way.
But back to coming back to Montreal… It felt old and usual but with some missing characters and suddenly all was different, I was in some other story that wasn’t mine or that I was unaware I had to write (or rewrite). On the midst of all those feelings it seemed to me that Montreal could be anywhere, the streets were the same but the people on it made it look like and feel like anywhere. Maybe a dystopia, maybe just a resemblance with some other part of the world, regardless! I wasn’t home anymore.
Together with this overwhelming feeling of not belonging came the idea of This could be anywhere, a series of shoots I do frequently while strolling the streets of Montreal.
The plot was primarily to show how diverse this city is and hence how beautiful and interesting. But other questions arose in the process which made me think a lot about one of my favourite photographers Diane Arbus and how she did photography. You see she was known for her “outsiders” series of photos where marginalized people would be photographed by her on a effort to ask “what is normality?” “what is ugly?”
Notwithstanding of how this could look, the “ugly” wasn’t the subject of my series (perhaps on a recent future it could be) but rather the feeling of not belonging. How could it be translated on images? Because you can be and feel like an outsider even if your attire doesn’t denounce you, or your believes, and so on. But that is another story, soon to come.
Ok now, back to Diane Arbus. She inspired me in so many levels and taught me so much with her photographies and the sense of loneliness that is engraved on them. The anxiety of wanting to be part of (a) society and the misery (perhaps) that comes with it.
And something that still scares me while shooting people on the streets is to be seen. Although is clear in some of my photos that the subject sees me I never know how to behave/approach/act when it happens. Diane wanted to be seen, she felt that the camera was a powerful device allowing the viewer of the photograph to be active on the process of making the photo and hence interfering on the subjects reaction to the photo. But wow it takes so much courage to do it!
Sometimes my subjects know I am photographing them, and when that happens it is as if we were both viewer and subject at the same time. But I have the camera. And I can share not only in words but in images the strangeness that is to be present and yet to feel scattered everywhere I once was.
It takes so much courage to see yourself in others.
Still not sure of where home is or what it means to have a home. Maybe have a home means having memories to me. They are constantly being built and hence transforming into something new, just like me. But that could be debated.
And if you happen to be in NY city in July (as I will) don’t miss Diane Arbus: in the beginning showing at the MET Breuer, is just to fascinating and inspiring.