January 30, 2020

Can we be anything other than strangers?

Harris Brine

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Envelopes explores and challenges conventional notions around trust, intimacy and perception, and how we can never really know another. Whilst we can describe our thoughts, we can’t experience what another feels, thinks. Plus, we all have thoughts we’ll never share. So we’re forever locked out. We get closer to another’s house, but never fully in. With intimacy, we only become closer strangers. There’s both cynicism and beauty in never knowing. Also, in growing, we become strangers to our old selves. In ageing, we’re strangers to memories. In dying, we become strangers to others. Inspired by Shizuka Yokomizo’s photography series Dear Stranger, I’ve created couplets called Envelopes (as each contains a message) which address the reader or sometimes, address no one at all. The sermon-like delivery is intentional; we’re far less likely to heed a stranger’s advice over those we know — I’m a stranger to the reader, why should they believe me? — Yet we implicitly trust preachers and the writers we read. But in contemplating how we can never really know anyone, what then? We readily accept we ‘know’ others; I hope the reader questions not only if they really know others, but also, if they really know themselves.