In 2014, I began a series of intimate conversations with strangers among the streets of New York City and Krakow, Poland. The work began with the question: “If you could do one thing every day, for the rest of your life at any increment of time, something that ignites you, what would it be?” The answers reveal the stories hidden underneath the modern fabric of the social and political landscape. The shared stories crafted a collective understanding that we all want the same fundamental things, yet travel different paths to attain them.
To inquire about one's existence, was also a plea to understand who they are, and through that, I engaged in the close act of compassion and empathy. We were two different people, but by asking what it is that you do and what makes you, you, I grappled with the social boundaries of “you will never be me, I will never be you.” The artistic act created a space through conversation and unbiased interaction. For me, it was a matter of cutting through the noise of judgment and polarity.
From the dozens of interviews, 1000 Souls took on many forms, first photographs, portrait paintings, and finally an immersive space. The installation emphasized various states of being, states of presence that we create as a result of our interaction with the environment around us. Glass bottles were suspended with nylon thread. Each bottle, like a raindrop frozen in time, held a fragment of the interactions. The site too became a site of exchange and reflection.