Siri Kaur, "Jane", 2005, C-print.

Siri Kaur, “Jane”, 2005, C-print.

Siri Kaur

I take photographs of strangers. They are people unknown to me, whose lives I briefly investigate through the act of photography. I
post notices around town or online announcing that I need subjects for portraits and the strangers select themselves by responding. Giving me permission to enter their lives satisfies a deep-seated curiosity I have nurtured for years. Watching people at cafes or chatting at parties, I am fascinated by people that I can never know anything about. My role as photographer gives me the key to accessing these anonymous existences.

Once a person responds to my advertisement, I go to their home, school, or favorite haunt and spend a few hours talking to them and making images. Since I do not know my subjects beyond a half hour’s conversation, they become actors in a mini tableaux created from their environment. Usually I have never seen the place I am going to be shooting. I move furniture and ask my subjects to change their clothes if a certain outfit isn’t working. I do not objectively record a situation; rather, I subjectively create an alternate universe unique to each photograph.

These images are my fantasies about the lives of people who willingly invite me into their homes. My strangers are eager participants in the fantasy of picture making. Some of them are aspiring models; some are children of mothers who want a nice picture to give grandma. Others are simply lonely and enjoy the attention. Young girls can be awkward; old men can be graceful, yet all have a unique, strange beauty when I see them through the lens.

Siri Kaur (Los Angeles, CA) earned her MA in Italian Literature and her BA in Comparative Literature from Smith College, in addition to participating in a student residency in Art History at Harvard University. She is currently earning her MFA in Photography from the California Institute of the Arts. Kaur has exhibited her work at the Texas Photographic Society, the California Institute of the Arts in Valenica, Riverside Metropolitan Art Museum, Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, DreamBox Photo Gallery in Chicago, and abroad at the Galleria dell’Acqua in Florence, Italy. Publications to her credit include those in Photo District News, CMYK Magazine, Through a Lens Starkly, and the Washington Post.