SHIZUKA YOKOMIZO, DEAR STRANGER…
Posted on November 16, 2012 by Isabella Cecconi
Dear Stranger, I am an artist working on a photographic project which involves people I do not know…I would like to take a photograph of you standing in your front room from the street in the evening. A camera will be set outside the window on the street. If you do not mind being photographed, please stand in the room and look into the camera through the window for 10 minutes on __-__-__ (date and time)…I will take your picture and then leave…we will remain strangers to each other…If you do not want to get involved, please simply draw your curtains to show your refusal…I really hope to see you from the window.
The amazing Shizuka Yokomizo’s photo project, came from running around London with huge telephoto lens, trying to glimpse unsuspecting people through the windows of their flats. Being absurd and frustrating by the one-sidedness of the activity, aside from the ethics aspect, she soon realized it was important for her to have eye contact while photographing. She needed the people to look back and recognize her equally as a stranger. So she decided to use the format of a simple anonymous letter, which contained the possibility of agreement.The effect was that when Yokomizo sent her subjects the letters, they started agreeing and stand in the front window of their home at a specified date and time.She started being welcomed. She would then arrive, set up her tripod and camera, exposed her film, and then leave. Each photograph shows someone looking out of a window. She selected the addresses and then wrote the note. Posers were not victims, they would allow Shizuka to see their homes. She needed their eye contact and them to recognize their existance. She existed as a stranger, they existed as strangers, but they both created a strange meeting point rather than just showing people’s private lives. Yokomizo made sure that when the photos were taken, the light would be too dark outside to see her, she would allow her subjects to see their own reflections in the window.
Shizuka Yokomizo, Japanese by birth, photographer by choice, has been living in London for more than 15 years. Aren’t you too waiting for the note? I definitely am!