I turned a lifelong love into an immersive documentary project; spending the last six years traveling around America chasing sailors. I reverse the male gaze and photograph at an intimate distance as I make these full-grown men and heroes nervous. I went from judgmental outsider to a friend, lover and insider. In the tradition of street photography I am on the hunt for salty tales and shenanigans as nostalgia, cliché, and humour guide the viewer through my adventures.
I put on my bright red lipstick, slip on my bright red high heels, I hit the street, I see these boys in white and with giddy excitement I approach… “Hey Sailor! New in town?”
Everyone loves a parade and Americans more than anybody. As a Canadian I always find American parades fascinating, flags, guns, uniforms, military, children uniformed as miniature soldiers, the old, the young, marching bands, ethnic stereotypes and more flags. Nostalgia, patriotism and joy spend hours preparing for a half-mile sweaty march from point A to B for no other reason than a parade.
In the US Navy the sailors leave their families and homes for up to 10 months at a time. When a ship or a squadron returns home, the families and loved ones run to their sailors with joy and abandonment. When I photograph a homecoming I witness the sacrifice and the heartache that the men and women who serve and their families go through every day. They stand in the rain and the cold, waiting, waving, flying flags and handmade banners, they see their sailors, they smile, they scream, they cry, their sailor is home.
The photographer Diane Arbus spoke about entering into people’s (actually strangers’)
homes, “If I were just curious, it would be very hard to say to someone, ‘I want to come
to your house and have you talk to me and tell me the story of your life.’ I mean people
are going to say, ‘You’re crazy.’ Plus they’re going to keep mighty guarded. But the
camera is a kind of license. A lot of people, they want to be paid that much attention and
that’s a reasonable kind of attention to be paid”.1
Pet Project, is a photographic portrait project of strangers, taken in the tradition of Arbus,
I enter into peoples lives and homes. I do not know these people until the moment I
begin to set up for the shot but during our time together I learn about them. I gather my
subjects from the online community website Craigslist, a website where you can buy, sell
or rant about anything under the sun. The ad reads: “Graduate student to photograph
you and your pets, in your home for free.”
Some of the subjects are found as I am walking down the street or sitting in a coffee
shop. If they seem interesting, if the relationship between the owner and the pet excites
me, I ask them to pose for me. Surprisingly, many of these strangers from the street
contact me, invite me into their homes and the relationship begins.
Who are these people who invite a stranger who solicited them over the Internet or on
the street into their homes? But then again who am I to have the desire to do it? I am a
voyeur who pleasures in the “sneak attack”, wearing the guise of photographer and
armed with a camera. They are exhibitionists who want someone to see their private
worlds and their most treasured possession their pets.
1 Arbus, Diane. Diane Arbus An Aperture Monograph. New York, NY: The
Aperture Foundation, 1972. Page 1.
An international collaboration with SašaDesign, the design studio of Sarajevo-born Canadian artist and designer Aleksandar (Saša) Škorić.
For three weekends in October a small mountain village in Central Washington State fulfills its Bavarian themed destiny and becomes the temporary home to thousands of drunken revellers. To the repeating sounds of "Roll out the Barrel" and "Sweet Caroline" novelty hats, pretzels, oomaph bands, sausages and beer enjoy a kitschy weekender of revelry and debauchery and eventually a hot mess.