The concept and action
'Witness' is a series of non-public performances in which I become 24 hours witness of another person's life who is a complete stranger. My objective is to keep silence, always to be nearby and to follow the person wherever he or she goes watching and actively perceiving the whole context of the life. Formally, I take a passive position nothing initiating and nowhere being involved. This allows me to focus on what is happening. I also do an intense inner work, which helps me to get quickly in touch with the person and to find a common rhythm. In short, this is a certain technique of presence and work with attention used by contemporary dancers and performance artists.
Any person can become a participant of the performance willing to let me into his/her live for 24 hours. Their task is to pre-arrange my 100% presence in all areas of their stay and just live a typical day. I warn the participant in advance of the forms of performance documentation and get permission to use these materials and personal data for a further publication. In 2016, I made several interventions to the life and work of different people. I find the participants guided by the criteria of social diversity and involve people of different age, gender, occupation, ethnicity, social class, income. By these criteria and also by witness life's frame I explore a variety of forms and methods of organization people's life in a modern city.
For 24 hours I see into the other person, and the other see into me. Closeness, duration and quality of a contact enhance our identities. Noting these differences we continue to look at each other as in a mirror, recognizing those or others features.
Every time it is a new and very intense experience of our own nature and identity in a particular social context. We go through a process of recognition and synchronization, overcoming discord and moving from "unfamiliar= strange = wrong" to "familiar=apprehensible= received." As a result, we get a temporary co-existence and witness each other as we are.
Photography by Eugene Kazakov, Olga Belova and Olga Kozmanidze