Shizuka Yokomizo’ project, Stranger, 1998 -2000, consisted of Yokomizo sending anonymous letters to her subjects asking them to stand in front of their from windows at an appointed time, and she would then spend a couple of minutes photographing them through their window from the street.
Shizuka Yokomizo, Stranger, 1998 -2000.
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.
Exploring the idea of the observer and the observed, Yokomizo wanted photographs of strangers that would look directly at the camera; so she selected a number of address’ and sent her notes, she wanted to remain as much a stranger to them as they were to her; so she was careful to photograph from points that would be dark and difficult to see. Yokomizo also wanted to create a layer of narcissism in her work by reasoning that the light from the rooms against the darkness of the outside would create reflections of the subjects as look out therefore seeing themselves as they stare into the dark. By gaining voluntary help from her subjects they offer a glimpse into their homes and private lives whilst both observer and observed still maintaining the relationship of strangers.
Yokomizo’ subjects all appear to put up a guarded front, for example the young woman stands arms folded and the young man stands rigid and they look confrontational. The man holding a phone appears more relaxed almost flirty; but the phone suggests a safety devise for calling for help if needed. The first two photos also appear colder in their tint and the young woman’s plants look like cactus plants, prickly; the photo of the man on the phone looks warmer as if he knows a girl is outside and is inviting her in. The subjects are framed by the widows and the windows appear to act as a barrier between her world and theirs.
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