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I made this set of portraits in the subway. The concept I had in mind with these photographs -and specifically in this kind of public area - was to make this kind of «non-lieux» real to the subject’s own experience.

A «non-lieux» (non-Place) is a neologism attributable to Marc Augé ever since 1991. It refers to «specific kinds of spaces, chiefly architectural and technological, designed to be passed through or consumed rather than appropriated, and retaining little or no trace of our engagement with». These ambivalent spaces, mainly established for transition and communication purposes, represent for Augé that particular condition which characterize the contemporary period he calls “supermodernity”. In fact, our time thoroughly appears to be «the product and agent of a contemporary crisis in social relations and consequently in the construction of individual identities through such relations».

Therefore, when I go into a subway and I dare to request for permission to take pictures of the people there, I’m disrupting their settled states they’ve always experienced in these kinds of «non-lieux». I’m creating an unusual event for the subjects, and thus they will remember this social interaction which will, in this way, make «real» the unreal.

By doing all this, I actually break with the implied rules induced in these kinds of public context -so to speak, to avoid staring at people or engaging into conversations with strangers, to avoid disturbing people for no reason or else – and these interruptions I arouse make me feel more alive than ever.

I see this sequence of pictures to be half as a photography project and another half as an artistic performance due to the settings where it took place and how I approached it.

Устинья Костёркина, Софья Костёркина
Text correction and revision: Claudine Paillé


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