Ever thought about connecting with strangers in a unique way and documenting the experience in an equally unique project? You’ll most likely pick up some ideas from today’s featured conceptual photography from Budapest-based Marietta Varga. Creating the series saw her navigating through conflicting feelings and the myriad of thoughts that come from getting to know as much as she could about a couple she will never meet.
Varga is lauded for visual worlds that have a simple and clean style, balanced by carefully directed compositions. In her series titled “The stranger I know,” she uses her outstanding attention to detail to transform her chosen location into a poignant story.
Peering through the unknowns
In early 2019, Varga had the opportunity to explore the home of a couple she didn’t know and would never meet again as they had already passed. She decided to get to know them by looking around the house for some clues about the life they lived. In the process, she found herself fascinated with the emotions and realization that came with the experience.
“Standing in their home, without their own permission, surrounded by their personal objects, I had such a paradoxical feeling. I felt guilty but I was curious at the same time. I was sorrowful but also excited. I was thinking a lot about: Is it possible to get to know people, at least a little bit, through their personal objects, through the traces they leave behind themselves? What can objects, and the way they are left, tell about their owners?”
Capturing a unique journey of discovery
Varga’s photos are intriguing and emotive on their own, but the story behind them added a new dimension to their impact. I love how the simplicity of the scenes and the slightly muted color palette further emphasized the stillness of the place and the emptiness left by the couple.
Apart from dedicating this short series to the memory of the couple, she also took the experience as an experiment to see how she can connect with people through their personal objects. I think her approach to interacting with the house and their belongings shows both tenderness and respect.
I can totally imagine her looking around and learning more about the couple bit by bit — from their choice in furniture, the garden they kept, the books on their shelves and the photos they displayed around the house.
I also find this project to be a unique way of telling a compelling story about people and how we relate to them, even if they’re no longer around. If you’re thinking about doing a non-conventional approach to narratives, I hope this series gave you some ideas!
All photos by Marietta Varga. Used with permission.