On Either Side of the Window

On Either Side of the Window


Project Statement

Portraits During Covid-19 – Work in Progress

“If the house of the world is dark,
Love will find a way to create windows.”
– Rumi

It seems as if life went on hold this past year – for everyone.  I am always straddling my two cultures and identities, as a Lebanese/Palestinian and as an American.  It feels as if the news is always dividing us as “them v/s us”, and now here we are a “we”: all in this together, in the same boat, with life at a standstill and reduced to the confinement of home.  This virus is such an equalizer, making us all re-evaluate our shared humanity, our fragility, and our priorities.

After a few days in isolation, and a need for human interaction, I put a call on Instagram asking people in the greater Boston area if they would agree to let me make their portrait through the window. It humbled me how many people were willing to be part of this, but also how important the human interaction we often took for granted, was – for both of us on either side of the window and of the camera.

Despite the fact that we only communicated across a physical barrier, we made a connection. The sense of being inside or outside was blurred. I am outside and looking in, but seeing the outside reflected onto the person in front of me.  Depending on where I stood, we could even overlap, connecting us on many levels, metaphorically and personally despite the physical barrier between us.

I aimed to capture the intimacy, beauty, anxiety and rhythm of daily life in quarantine, where the home “acts simultaneously as a sanctuary and a prison.”* As the weeks went by and the “new normal” settled in, the portraits started transforming with the window almost acting like a stage and people on the inside becoming active participants in the photo session, bringing their ideas and their performances to the interaction we were creating.

*  By Harriet Lloyd-Smith for Wallpaper