On the evening of October 13th, 2014, my 27th birthday, I was gifted a list from an acquaintance I will refer to as ‘K’ (the Keeper). The list chronicled his sexual history, named and numbered in consecutive order. I spent a year tracking down the people behind the names, interviewing and photographing them in the hope of creating a picture of K as he would be seen through the eyes of his former lovers.
Why did you call him K?
K stands for ‘Keeper’ as in the ‘keeper’ of the list. I played around with the idea of calling him X or patient zero but found both options to be dehumanizing.
What was your main takeaway from the project?
As an introvert, I’m fascinated with this idea of reality vs perception. What’s more important and how does one influence the other. In a digital world where we live out our lives online, we have the ability to curate our own narrative and control how people see us. In turn, we feed off their feedback. Governed by popular opinion, we alter our own narrative (at least from the outset) in order to strive for increased popularity. But at what point does perception influence reality?
I saw this play out to a certain extent while working with K on The List. “He’s changed,” his friends said. It seemed the more we indulged his own narcissism, the higher he perceived his personal worth which in turn changed the way he was interacting with women. Perception was becoming reality. It was at this point that I decided to end the project.
Let’s talk about female sexuality…
I felt that many of the women were liberated by the anonymity of the project and as a result, feel free to express a more sexual side to themselves. As a society, we are used to women playing down their sexual exploits and men exaggerating theirs. It was refreshing to hear women talk about wanting sex, that’s not a dialogue we are used to hearing.
Why did you start the project at no.36?
I played around with a few different ideas, starting at the end and working back or simply starting at no.01. In the end, I decided to present the story in the order that I met with the girls, creating an additional narrative that runs alongside that of the primary characters.
What inspired the project?
A few years ago, I was finishing up Tinderella and considering my next project when I received a call from a friend. She had found her boyfriends list. Her greatest concern was that she recognized names on the list but what interested me, were the stories attached to the names. Each name represented a chapter or a moment in that person’s life and I wondered if I could create a patchwork version of someone else’s life as seen through the eyes of others. Initially, I intended to advertise on Craigslist for volunteers but when I mentioned the idea to K, he showed me a spreadsheet he’d been keeping since high school, complete with first, last names and contact details. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Looking back, I don’t think I would have been able to complete the project without his cooperation.
Did the project change your relationship ship with K?
The shared experience of working on the project together allowed me to get to know him on a whole new level. I am forever grateful for his transparency and openness to exploit his sex life for my work.
Were there any profiles that stood out to you and why?
No.20 is tough to read and unfortunately, representative of a sexual culture I believe many women will relate to. It opens up a larger conversation about sexual conduct and consent that needs to be addressed with education.
How did you contact the girls?
K reached out to the girls first, (usually over Facebook) letting them know to expect an email from me about an art project. I followed up with project details, opening up a conversation and linking to past work.
Of the girls that said no, was there anyone, in particular, you would have liked the opportunity to interview?
Definitely no.24 – I would love to know what inspired her physical attack and why she wanted to catch up with him a few days later.
Why did you include yourself in the project and how do you think your personal bias affects the story?
As with Tinderella, I have cast myself in the role of the unreliable narrator. By speaking directly to my audience, I’m able to influence or frame their perspective. My involvement and personal bias blurs the line between fact and fiction and leaves the audience questioning how others might represent their narrative.