1 year ago I was asked by a little boy in Christchurch, New Zealand if I had been eaten by a shark.
2 months ago I was asked by an elderly woman in Sighisoara, Romania if I had lost my legs in a car accident.
6 weeks ago I was asked by a bar patron in Helena, Montana if I still wore my dog tags from Iraq.
Everyone tries to create a story in their heads to explain the things that baffle them. For the same reason we want to know how a magic trick works, or how mystery novel ends, we want to know how someone different, strange, or disfigured came to be as they are. Everyone does it. It’s natural. It’s curiosity.
But before any of us can ponder or speculate – we react. We stare. Whether it is a glance or a neck twisting ogle, we look at that which does not seem to fit in our day to day lives. It is that one instant of unabashed curiosity – more reflex than conscious action – that makes us who we are and has been one of my goals to capture over the past year.
It is after this instant that we try to hazard a guess as to why such an anomalous person exists. Was it disease? Was it a birth defect? Was it a landmine? These narratives all come from the context in which we live our lives. Illness, drugs, calamity, war – all of these might become potential stories depending upon what we are exposed to in connection with disability.
In each photograph the subjects share a commonality, but what does their context say? Looking at each face, I saw humanity. Rolling through their streets, I found the unique cultures and customs that created an individual.
NPR slide show and audio of Connolly discussing this exhibit.