Nella top five delle parole più pronunciate si potrebbe inserire connettere.  Dai social media al coworking fino ai siti per incontri, sono molte le realtà che connettono persone, enti, idee, vite. Ma se guardiamo la faccenda da un altro punto di vista, tutte queste connessioni, per loro natura, hanno il potere di mettere in relazione persone che non si conoscono. Si conosceranno, collaboreranno, s’innamoreranno, si rivedranno o forse non si vedranno mai, ma di certo in principio furono sconosciuti.
Abbiamo contattato Sipke Visser, fotografo olandese naturalizzato londinese, che per i suoi progetti lavora spesso con perfetti estranei. Nella serie Gumtree ha fotografato persone che hanno risposto al suo annuncio inserito sulla piattaforma online, ha condiviso con loro giusto il momento dello shooting fotografico.

Questa volta siamo state noi a scrivergli per prime, date le premesse non poteva rifiutarci un’intervista!

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree moodboard

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree moodboard

Cosebelle – Ciao Sipke, raccontaci com’é nato il progetto Gumtree, quante persone hanno risposto al tuo annuncio?

Sipke Visser – Ricordo abbastanza chiaramente com’è iniziato. A quel tempo lavoravo per lo più al fotoritocco, da casa. Avevo molto lavoro da fare ed era frustrante perché significava non avere tempo per uscire a fotografare. Così ho pensato che per esercitarmi nei ritratti avrei potuto mettere un annuncio online chiedendo alle persone interessate di venire a casa mia e passare un paio d’ore a fargli delle fotografie. Così nacque Gumtree. Per chi non lo avesse mai sentito nominare è un sito web dove si possono acquistare e vendere cose, inserire annunci di qualunque tipo. Ho ricevuto a casa 31 persone.

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008 Hi Sipke, I find your add on gumtree. Im interested to make a shoot with you. I love to be a model, but I m a make up artist and hair stylist so if you would like We can create something with another models for future. I m very open, because I m passionate about my work.I think I live not too far from your place. Kind regards, Natalia Kessler

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008
Hi Sipke,
I find your add on gumtree. Im interested to make a shoot with you. I love to be a model, but I m a make up artist and hair stylist so if you would like We can create something with another models for future. I m very open, because I m passionate about my work.I think I live not too far from your place.
Kind regards,
Natalia Kessler

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008 Hi Spike, I would be interested in getting some shots done. I am looking to update/get some extra photos for my portfolio (as an actress). Are you only looking to do headshots? Or more artistic shots? Let me know if you are still looking.

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008
Hi Spike,
I would be interested in getting some shots done. I am looking to update/get some extra photos for my portfolio (as an actress). Are you only looking to do headshots? Or more artistic shots? Let me know if you are still looking.

CB – Ti era già capitato di fotografare sconosciuti? Come ci si sente dalla parte di chi è dietro l’obbiettivo e qual’è stata la reazione dei soggetti di fronte alla macchina fotografica?

SV – Una volta per un altro progetto ho affittato una stanza vuota, ho tolto tutti i mobili e ho lasciato solo caffé, té e la macchina fotografica (una macchina analogica, niente luci e solo un obiettivo). Ho invitato amici di amici e anche completi sconosciuti a farci un salto per un’oretta. L’idea era di essere improvvisamente in una stanza con sconosciuti, a chiacchierare e scattare fotografie. Alcune persone hanno detto che era come andare ad una seduta dal terapista. Una cosa interessante è stata che col passare del tempo la gente iniziava a sentirsi più a proprio agio all’idea che io gli scattassi delle fotografie. Immagino sia una reazione comprensibile, ma in quel momento ne sono diventato davvero consapevole. Da parte mia ho provato a tenere la conversazione equilibrata, e a volte ho anche passato la macchina fotografica per farmi fare delle foto.

CB – Cosa ha spinto le persone a rispondere al tuo annuncio e venire a casa tua per farsi fotografare?

SV – Ognuno aveva la sua particolare storia che lo aveva portato da me in quel momento. Francesco ha avuto l’idea di farsi fotografare facendo le bolle con la bocca, Otelo è un artista che si era appena trasferito dal Portogallo, Ruth è arrivata con il fidanzato e voleva una foto per sua madre, Jessica è una modella di professione e aveva bisogno di alcuni ritratti naturali, Neil voleva avere delle immagini nudo per il suo portfolio.

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008 hey nice. can i send u a pic of mine?

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008
hey nice.
can i send u a pic of mine?

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008 Hey stranger....Hope this finds you well!..........funny how my 'pained' expression being pondered upon by me (since you enlightened me of it - and I thank you for this) has made me look at things in a different light and I am at bursting point - which is a good thing because I am choosing to see it and learn and change what I can from it - God, I sound like I am at an AA meeting - hehehehehe Was wondering if you had any pictures back which may be suitable for use for my website? Other than that - how are you doing? Claudia Coulter

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008
Hey stranger….Hope this finds you well!……….funny how my ‘pained’ expression being pondered upon by me (since you enlightened me of it – and I thank you for this) has made me look at things in a different light and I am at bursting point – which is a good thing because I am choosing to see it and learn and change what I can from it – God, I sound like I am at an AA meeting – hehehehehe
Was wondering if you had any pictures back which may be suitable for use for my website?
Other than that – how are you doing?
Claudia Coulter

CB – Qualcosa può sembrare familiare, ma non significa che lo conosciamo. C’é un confine sottile ma importante tra familiarità e conoscenza. Nei tuoi progetti ti sei interessato alla relazione con persone estranee. Cos’é che ti affascina di questa condizione?

SV – Credo sia affascinante che tutte le persone che si incontrano nel corso di una giornata, per strada, in bus o al supermercato, hanno un’intera storia dietro di loro. Certo, non si potrà mai scoprirla tutta, ma mi piace l’idea di condividere lo spazio con un completo sconosciuto, solo per il gusto di conoscersi per un’ora. E ciò che ho fatto nei miei progetti Room Project, Gumtree e Return to Sender. In quest’ultimo ho spedito lettere e foto a sconosciuti e ho chiesto loro di rispondermi con una immagine o un breve messaggio. Forse è una specie di speed date ma senza romanticismo?

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008 Hi Sipke, My name's Neil Summerville,I'm an actor and RAM registered life model(RAM No:1279) and I'd like to be considered for your project. I've modelled for the Life Drawing Salon,which is based very near Bethnal Green tube at 1a,Hollybush Place,so I'm fairly familiar with the immediate area around the tube station! I've attached a headshot,as requested,and look forward to hearing from you soon, Best wishes, Neil.

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008
Hi Sipke,
My name’s Neil Summerville,I’m an actor and RAM registered life model(RAM No:1279) and I’d like to be considered for your project. I’ve modelled for the Life Drawing Salon,which is based very near Bethnal Green tube at 1a,Hollybush Place,so I’m fairly familiar with the immediate area around the tube station!
I’ve attached a headshot,as requested,and look forward to hearing from you soon,
Best wishes,
Neil.

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008 Hi Sipke, I saw your ad on gum tree and I’m interested in doing some photos with you. I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of myself (I’m on my work computer right now) but here’s a link to my facebook page; http://www.facebook.co/profile.php?id=222303386. I am generally too lazy to edit the photos that my friends tag, so it should give you an accurate and honest impression of what I look like!Hope to hear from you soon. Ruth Evans

© Sipke Visser, Gumtree, 2008
Hi Sipke,
I saw your ad on gum tree and I’m interested in doing some photos with you. I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of myself (I’m on my work computer right now) but here’s a link to my facebook page; http://www.facebook.co/profile.php?id=222303386. I am generally too lazy to edit the photos that my friends tag, so it should give you an accurate and honest impression of what I look like!Hope to hear from you soon.
Ruth Evans

CB – Chi è un fotografo fonte di ispirazione?

SV – Sono sicuramente ispirato da altri fotografi. Amo il lavoro di Sophie Calle ad esempio. Difficile dire cosa esattamente mi ispira, ma appena vedo una mostra di fotografia in un museo o in una galleria, sento il desiderio di uscire fuori a scattare fotografie. L’idea stessa della fotografia, che ogni scatto sia un momento accaduto nel tempo, con una storia prima e una dopo, questo mi affascina e ispira.

CB – Il nostro magazine si chiama Cosebelle, qual’é per te una cosa bella?

SV – La mia fidanzata e mio figlio, che dovrebbe nascere lo stesso giorno in cui questa intervista sarà pubblicata.

 

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Cosebelle – Hi Sipke, can you tell us how the Gumtree project started? How many people replied to your ad?

Sipke Visser – I quite clearly remember how it started. At the time I was making most of my living as a retoucher and working from home. I remember having a lot of work on which was a bit frustrating because it meant I had no time to get out and take pictures. So I though that for practicing portraiture I could put an advertisement online asking people to come to my place and I would take an hour or two to photograph them. And so the Gumtree project was born. For people who have never heard of it, Gumtree is a website where you can buy stuff, sell stuff, or meet people. For this project I had 31 people visiting me.

CB – Have you ever photographed people you didn’t know before for other projects? How did you feel as the one behind the camera and how was the reaction of the subjects in front of the camera?

SV – For a project, I rented an empty room in a flat. I took all the furniture out and made sure there was just coffee, tea, me and my camera (an analogue camera, no lighting and just one lens). I then invited friends of friends and also total strangers to drop by for an hour. It was about the idea of suddenly being in a room with a stranger, just talking and taking pictures. Several people mentioned that for them it was like going to a therapist. One interesting thing was that as the hour progressed, people visibly got more comfortable with me taking pictures. I guess that makes sense, but I became very aware of it. I did try to keep it more or less equal with the conversation going both ways and sometimes even handing over the camera so they could take pictures of me.

CB – What brings people to come to your place to be photographed?

SV – Everyone had their own story and reason for coming. Francesco had this idea of being photographed making bubbles from his mouth (see picture). Otelo was an artist who had just moved from Portugal and came out of general interest. Ruth came with her boyfriend and wanted a photo for her mum. Jessica was a professional model who wanted some very natural portraits. Neil needed (nude) images for his life-modelling portfolio.

CB – Something can look familiar, but it doesn’t mean it’s actually known. There is a tiny but important boundary between familiarity and knowledge. In your projects you investigated the relationship with unknown people, what exactly fascinates you in the condition of being strangers?

SV – I find the idea fascinating that whomever you see on the street or in the bus or in the supermarket has an entire story behind them. But of course you will never find out all those stories, that’s impossible. I love the idea of being in a space with a complete stranger only for the sake of getting to know each other during an hour. That’s what happened with the Room Project, with Gumtree and also with Return to Sender (in that one I sent letters and photos to strangers). Maybe it’s a bit like speed dating, but without the romance?

CB – Which is an inspiring photographer for you?

SV – I’m sure I’m inspired by other photographers. I love Sophie Calle’s work for example. It’s hard to say specifically what and who inspires me, but I do often feel this urge to go and take pictures just by walking in a galleries or museums. I absolutely love photographs. The idea of each of them being a moment in time that happened. With a story before and one after, that totally fascinates me and inspires me.

CB – Our magazine is called Cosebelle. What is your “beautiful thing”?

SV – That would be my girlfriend and my unborn baby, who is due on the same day as this interview.