Lounging by the door, a man wearing a beanie and glasses and holding a beer in his hand exclaims loudly as his friend appears around the corner. They greet each other and hug, clearly glad to be in each other’s company. This feeling of belonging and excitement continues as one uncovers what lies beyond; a hanging gallery of neighbours. In a nondescript building with polished concrete floors and white brick walls, patrons walk around gazing up at the film portraits of people from all around the world.
‘Lucia’ by Aida Chambó Ribes (@ahyladelaze)
The project is an international collaboration that is pioneered by photographer, 823. In an effort to push people out of their comfort zones, 823 sold the same batch of expired 35mm film to 200 participants worldwide and asked them to capture the portraits of people in their community. They were to engage with strangers, photograph with intention and “embrace the flaws, beauty and serendipity of the experience”. This culminated in the exhibition with the artwork from the participants on display and the remainder of their photographs projected onto a wall.
‘Erika’ by Margot DeCaster (@margot_decaster)
The portraits were hugely diverse, yet all connected by the same intention and nostalgic feeling that film photography emanates. Some were clear and colour balanced while others were awash with blue and purple hues as the expiration of the film took its toll.
The artwork featured a range of ages, ethnicities and environments, displaying the breadth and variety of people in our world. Some neighbours were captured in day to day moments as they hung out the washing, waited for the bus or smelt the roses. Others posed for the camera as they mowed the lawn, lounged in the sun or smiled next to a ‘no vacancy’ sign.
‘Margot’ by Arthur De Keyser (@arthurdekeyser_)
The crowd that came were just as varied. Mums and sons and friend groups of twos, threes and fours. Some partners were dressed in smart casual clothes while other best friends wore blue silk pants and corduroy overalls. A few slid in by themselves, taking their time to pause between each print and gaze up at them thoughtfully. A mother darted across the room as her toddler sprinted to the other side. A sense of community emanated around the room as people laughed, smiled and discussed the artwork around them.
‘Liudmila’ by Diana Bahirian (@diasthik)
A man in great, round glasses turns towards his partner, twisting the words of the second great commandment, “appreciate thy neighbour”. His partner laughs, nods and turns back to the photograph they are studying of a woman holding a bunch of flowers next to a river.
I couldn’t say it better myself.