When you pass a stranger on the street, or get on a crowded elevator, or take your change from the cashier, do you look them in the eye? I don't, usually. I'm fairly shy, and I like to make my day-to-day interactions as short as possible. But something strange happens on those rare occasions when I look up and lock eyes with someone who is not known to me. The sense of connection, of awareness of another person is striking. Sometimes it can be scary or feel so intimate as to leave me blushing. Do you feel this way? Do you look others in the eye during your day?
I am obsessed with Marina Abramovic's art piece at MOMA, "The Artist is Present." During her performance, Abramovic sits in a chair, unmoving, barely blinking, while patrons take turns seated across from her. No words are exchanged, but the emotional impact is palpable.
Flickr portraits of patrons
Novelist Colm Toibin's review for NY Review of Books