I first met Sarah in my apartment. Her and I united as roommates in a railroad apartment in Greenpoint in 2009. Things can either go terribly right or spiral off in an awkward / let’s-not-speak-of-it direction when you’re two people who aren’t in a relationship living in a space where one must walk through the other’s room to access the kitchen + bathroom. Fast-forward 2+ years and despite us now both being in very different places in life, we remained in good contact.
I spoke with Sarah about her participation in my project, “What If This Were Me?” because she’s insightful, thoughtful, creative, and I felt she’d lend a very conceptual image to this project. We met several times, exchanged rounds of emails and bantered back and forth over the ideas and photographs she wanted to contribute. It was really wonderful working with Sarah on this because she provided a critical eye to how she wanted to be portrayed in both images and she helped me think about the project from a different vantage point. Although “What If This Were Me?” has an occupational feel to it, in the sense of employment, we spun it in a different direction thinking about women’s choices from the perspective of being one person in the context of a place, and the freedom we have to occupy spaces + nature. The decision to hold signs in both images sprung from the idea of being one person in the past, in nature, surrounded by a pastoral milieu that was more easily accessible, to the current/future image of being one of seven million individuals who co-exist in a city, amidst urbanization + the growth of consumption + essentially, “stuff.” It’s about being a voice amongst many, sometimes buried in our thoughts, sometimes in each other’s words and stories, laboring to emerge as an individual who isn’t consumed or occupied by tight spaces and seven million other voices.
Shooting these images with Sarah helped me think a lot about my own place and voice in this world. For her, the project seemed particularly meaningful as an individual/writer whose voice and space is spoken through poetry and books. What spaces in time have we occupied and been one, or one in N million? How do we use space to define ourself and contribute something back into the world? And in the spaces we occupied in the past and for the ones we will in the future, what impact have we left and will we leave?
This is, Sarah.