This project explores what it is to have close, shared experience. Does a touch tickle the same feeling from one to another? I’m curious about how atmosphere can be created and miscommunicated, from a cuddle to a withdrawn hand, and whether moments of silence are objectively comfortable or cruel. How is something made intimate?
Around a dozen people were interviewed about their experiences and thoughts on intimacy in 2018, and follow-up interviews began in 2021. The interviews turned out to be starkly different; from person to person, and also each interviewee’s ideas changed (often drastically) over time.
The pool of interviewees so far includes; a film director, a masseuse, a polyamorous couple, an actor, a portrait photographer, a sex worker, a psychologist, and someone with depression.
In the interviews, the concept of intimacy is explored not only in relation to a partner, but also in group situations – looking at how intimacy is connected to the atmosphere in a room. Another important area that this project explores is intimacy with oneself.
With the lack of touch we are all feeling in the pandemic, I think the topic of intimacy is more important than ever, for the process of social healing that will come when we finally move away from the socially-distanced state.
I have begun the process of transforming the interviews into a collection of short stories, compiled with research from the fields of social psychology, and the philosophical discipline of phenomenology.
Holding onto parts of my studies in philosophy and psychology, I want to develop a theory of shared subjective experience. I think this formulation would help us to conceptualise both atmosphere and intimacy.
Storytelling is my favourite means for relating ideas and exploring complex, emotive topics. I find that formal essay structures can often constrict certain subjects until all of their sensitivity is squeezed out.
I want my work to only be the start of a bigger project that brings in different artists’ responses to the question: what is intimacy? I want to conduct interviews with more people and work with an illustrator to enliven my words. I envisage the final project being an illustrated book. If you are interested in being part of this project, please get in touch.