2014 JURY'S CHOICE

 

Haley Morris-Cafiero

lives and works in the USA

 

www.haleymorriscafiero.com

 

 

For my series, Wait Watchers, I set up a camera in a crowded public area and photograph the scene as I perform mundane tasks while strangers pass by me. I then examine the images to see if any of the passersby had a critical or questioning element in their face or body language. I consider my photographs a social experiment and I travel the world to photograph the reactions of a diverse pool of strangers. I reverse the gaze back on to the stranger and place the viewer in the position of being a passive

witness to a moment in time.

 

I place the camera on a tripod and take hundreds of photographs. The resulting images capture the gazer in a Cartier-Bresson, microsecond moment where the shutter, the scene, my actions and their body language align and are frozen on the frame. While I do not know what they are thinking, the gazer appears to be visually troubled by my presence. The act of photographing this series is empowering because rather than

internalizing the criticism, I present the photographic evidence to the world and allow the viewer to choose their stance.

 

Though the passersby's critical gaze lasts only a microsecond, the gaze is recorded and allowed to be revisited over and over again. My photographs remove the shroud of anonymity for the gazer who seems to be protected by making reactions to me behind my back.

 

After the photographs were published on various blogs last year, the photographs went "viral" and created a site for people to criticize me using anonymous online profiles. Most of the comments suggest that my life would be better if I exercised and got a makeover. The later images of the series depict my attempt to show that I, or anyone who lives outside of society's norm, are subject to criticism even if we participate in selfimproving exercises.