Intimacy. My space, your space. Private life, intimate relationships, secrets, comfort, security, alone time. Our lives are a constant negotiation between public and private, between intimacy and exposure. We all cry for our time, our space, our love, our intimacy, while still craving for attention, for someone, preferably more than someone to see and “like” our love, our space, our time, our clothes and friends, and that’s probably how the “cult” of food photos took over instagram.. Like little drama queens we wish to be seen, to be complimented, to be in the centre of attention. We masterfully manufacture our own image and then spread it on the internet in “no filter”, “no make-up”, “I woke up like this” photos, making it seem as we would live a wonderful life, the life that everybody desires to live, that is commercialised every day and with every possible means. It is the no-stress, heartbreak-free, stable and happy good life that we continuously try to highlight through our posts on social media. If we don’t have it, we can at least stage it. One only sees smiling faces in photos, people having fun, perfect make-up, tasty meals, hotel rooms and views taken out of dreams or artsy films, tickets to concerts or incredible gifts we just received for our birthdays. Some might be genuine, but most are not. Some might actually interest someone, maybe family, maybe some close friends, but most people don’t actually care what anybody else just had for lunch. And this is not because we are not interested in others’ intimacy, in others’ lives and personal spaces. Actually, if you ask me, voyeurism is a human feature. That’s why we go to films, that’s why we read others’ texts, diaries, and “overhear” conversations. It’s a guilty little pleasure. Knowing something that we are not supposed to know, seeing something that it is not for our eyes, hearing something which was whispered for someone else’s heart, violating others’ intimacy, while sheltering our own. It’s a “Dogville” kind of situation, we would wish for transparent walls, for the power of reading minds, but only for us, not for others as well. We would wish to be the witness of Dogville, not the actor. And most probably, once we would have those “powers”, we would get bored. This is exactly what happens when intimacy is willingly shared via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or other social platforms.
No one cares about your “private” shared life, the only one that matters is the hidden one, even though that “hidden” life is pretty much the same as everyone else’s. And this is exactly what I tried to capture in my first photographic project.
What I did in this photographic series was gathering small bits of my living environment. A series of personal mythologies, of small and unimportant things and aspects of my private life, which, as small ants building a complex anthill, are tiny bits and pieces that describe me as an individual. The way from my closet with all its skeletons, to my undone bed, the remains of a finished meal, my ugly little imaginary friends and the accessories used to shape my “outside” look, all of these actually may have little to no appeal to anybody, not even to myself, because it is already something that I know so well, and this “I know them so well, that I don’t even bother to observe them anymore, just like the back of my hand” is what might just make them all the more intimate.
It does not feel like good life, even though it actually is: a room, a bed, food, clean clothes; it does not look beautiful., or better say flamboyant, bohemian or luxurious as the photos on Instagram usually look because these photographs were not taken with the purpose of gaining likes. It is mostly a pile of different random things, colourful things, but nothing more. Without the desire to stage “the good life”, these photos are just a colourful mess.
It’s something so personal, but at the same time so trivial, so random, so unimportant. This is so far from the intimacy we actually want to know in others, even though it is the exact thing I won’t normally make public on social media. We do not want filters, make-up, costumes, prefabricated backgrounds, we reject all mediated intimacies, searching for the raw one, searching for the “real” which in a Lacanian view has been lost forever once we started conforming to the unspoken rules of life. But when we do get close to someone else’s intimacy (if we exclude the reading of somebody else’s romantic texts, which is always “a feast”, thanks to all the commercial love we’re intoxicated with), we understand why no one actually shares “unmediated intimacy”. Because it’s common, it’s simple.
Following from the previous paragraph, I actually find the expression “unmediated intimacy” problematic in relation to my photographs and with any photograph, even with photographs which’s main purpose is to document. They are intimate, but certainly not unmediated, in the most literal sense of the word. The simple fact that the images are photographs (actually the simple fact that those are images and not the actual view) taken by me, from a certain angle, at a certain moment, and only of a certain conglomerate of different things is enough to challenge the “unmediated” statute of the series, but at the same time, the exact same factors, reinforce this statute, by showing something just as intimate as the things lying around in my room, my own very personal view on my own “natural habitat”.