I’m from London, a city famous for holding millions of people that go to incredible lengths not to talk to each other. The morning commute on the London Underground is silent as the grave, people jammed in cheek by jowl, yet still trying in vain to imagine there isn’t somebody else’s face less then six inches from the end of their nose. It’s depressing, unfriendly, a little shameful and more or less true for every metro/subway/whateveryoucallit in the world.
American artist George Ferrandi is attacking this concept of passive hostility on city trains with her photo series It Felt Like I Knew You… Ferrandi’s statement for the project is as follows:
‘I ride the NYC subway trains, usually in the evening when the seats are full. I focus on the shape of the space between the person sitting next to me and myself. I attempt to mentally and emotionally re-sculpt that space. In my mind, I reshape it- from the stiff and guarded space between strangers to the soft and yielding space between friends. I direct all my energy to this space between us. When the space palpably changes, and I completely feel like the stranger sitting next to me is my friend, I rest my head on that person’s shoulder’.
Part peformance, part photography, It Felt Like I Knew You… is a heartwarming project. It’s such a joy to see people reacting in a positive way, even if it is well-mannered sniggering. The best outcomes are when the other person tacitly accepts the artist’s head on their shoulder and they ride in peace. The question is, how would you react?