Close Up

8 December 2016: Samira Elagoz: The Stranger Project

Samira Elagoz presents a special screening of video portraits that combine documentary and performance to explore her intimate encounters with strangers. We're thrilled to have Samira here in person for a Q&A with filmmaker and curator Karel Doing following the screening.

The Stranger Project is Samira Elagoz's ongoing and ever-expanding voyeuristic exploration of how the camera influences intimacy between two strangers: The documentarian and the subject. Through an internet ad Samira met many strangers and found a wide vision of what people are and can be. The participants know the setup – there will be a camera, and they will be the subject. The situation could unfold in any way.

The camera seemingly lets the subject go beyond what is usually permitted in an initial meeting. The position of the documentarian is also questioned. Would she just be an observer? She was aware of the alternating power relation of being behind the camera, and wanted to explore the self-exposure involved. The results are intimate portraits about the story the subjects want to convey, as well as their reaction to Samira, and herself performing the character that the stranger might need. She becomes part of the narrative, instead of making a film, she enters one. And shares something oddly real with them.

In this collection made for Close-Up, Samira shares a number of meetings, old and new, that attempt to showcase both the varying natures and similar attitudes her subjects exhibit.

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