North Oxford is known as the nice part of town where the upper / middle class and academics live. Sharon Boothroyd wandered these streets at dusk, looking in the windows at the interiors and inhabitants. She was intrigued as to what these people were like and how they lived. She located rooms with the curtains open and the lights on, with a ‘subject’ inside, and knocked on the door to ask for permission to take a photograph. She asked the subject to resume what they had been doing, but by making them aware of her presence she crossed the boundary between private and public. In doing so, Boothroyd invited the sitters to become part of their own window displays. As the subjects are now collaborating with the photographer in their self-revelations, the work becomes anti-voyeuristic. This newfound self-consciousness on the part of the subjects, lends itself to the history of portraiture. Traditionally the subject would commission an artist to portray them in relation to their chosen environment and social status. Although Boothroyd’s subjects did not anticipate the photographer’s arrival, the interiors were already posed and invite a reading of the inhabitant that is in line with their class and status. These kinds of interiors become objects of aspiration and many pertain to this kind of lifestyle as their goal in life. By framing these interiors inside their existing (window) frames Boothroyd emphasises the objectivity of this kind of lifestyle and the fixed boundary they require if they are to retain their allure.
Selected by Emma Morris, Photoworks