by Stanislava Georgieva
My Unfamiliar Face to You
This is a story about a journey of finding my unfamiliar face through following another person's thoughts and actions. She is my protagonist. Hers is a journey of a woman in her mid-30s who is a foreigner from Bulgaria and who lives in New York. It begins with the innocuous trappings of daily life, but for some reason the ordinary, the familiar beckons a stranger, unknown, maybe exciting place. She is curious to experience this new unfamiliar world. She has to leave everything behind to be able to make a step forward in the unexpected. Once she embarks upon this journey there is no way back. She becomes a tourist forever, living on the threshold between Bulgaria and America.
The images construct a narrative that recalls sequences of film stills. One who has never been to the United States learns about the American dream and lifestyle from cinema, western media and pop culture, scenes that get repeated over and over again like records in a motel bar jukebox. These seductive visual narratives obliterate the line between reality and illusion, beckoning the reckless, the uninitiated, the longing. Though they could be based on actual truth, the realm in which people see and imagine themselves inhabiting these narratives, anticipating them, remains transitory and problematic. Is the reality people believe in the one that dictates their actions or the one that consumes them?
My protagonist and I are very often mistaken for the same person in both a physical and psychological way. In fact, this whole series of images could be considered a self-portrait, an investigation of my own self and vision but projected from another person—somewhat familiar, but still not fully understood. Like in film, the “she” in the photographs is the surrogate. Our likeness allows me to express the subversive identity duality we all carry within ourselves. Forever bound to be the tourist, all the moments “she” lives through become the divide between two personality types, two possible worlds to inhabit, two perspectives of seeing the future, and ultimately two ways of defining who “she” is and where she actually “exists.”