The Glass Between Us

The North of Oxford is known as the academic area where the intellectuals and upper class live. Sharon Boothroyd wandered these streets at dusk, looking at residents through their windows. Looking for illuminated rooms with the curtains open and a ‘subject’ inside, she knocked on the door to ask if she could take their picture from outside looking in. In crossing the boundary between private and public she begins a collaboration between the subject and herself, making the work anti-voyeuristic in style.

Sharon asks the subject to resume what they had been doing but by making them aware of her presence she introduces an element of self-consciousness. This newfound self-consciousness is in keeping with the history of portraiture. Traditionally the subject would commission an artist to portray them in relation to their chosen environment and social status. Although these subjects did not anticipate the photographer’s arrival, the interiors were already staged and invite a reading of the inhabitant in line with their class and status, much like traditional portraiture. In a sense she invited the sitters to become part of their own window displays, drawing upon the history of portraiture whilst maintaining a contemporary approach.