B Shot by a Stranger!
Started in 2011 as an experimental series shot through webcam, it was in 2012 when B Shot by a Stranger took some deepness in its meaning and become a real project to which I’ve been dedicating an incredible amount of time. The aim of this project has been always to portray one of the most delicate “state of mind” amongst youth in this screenager’s time: loneliness.
Shooting through webcam, I direct only the volunteers to get better compositions, angles and light. All the rest is up with them, so I just follow their own lonely rituals, usually in the morning when the light is often better.
This has given me some worries too, mostly at the beginning: some connections are not the best, some houses don’t have enough light, etc. It’s never an easy task, specially because you’re not there with the volunteer and we can’t go around the screen to have a better angle. Or compose with better light.
It’s also great the feeling of being trusted, which leads to a more responsible work. They’re naked in their privacy and frailness, often for the first time with a stranger. And they trust. And I can only thank for it.
In this “B Shot by a Stranger” series, I’ve been trying to portray loneliness in youth the most accurate and honest way, and that’s why I don’t use to lead them to anything special, they just do whatever they do when they’re lonely. Some loners are more aware of the webcam being on than others. Some just forget they are being watched. Some others just enjoy being seen or the virtual company in their own loneliness.
I can only thank to all the loners who volunteered all these years for this project. It has been an extraordinary experience, with which I’ve been also learning immensely.
In these 4 years of being a stranger shooting loners through webcams, the series have been lectured in several colleges and universities all over the world, mainly in courses like photography, media or even sociology and psychology. Some students have been asking me to tutor their last college projects on this item as well. Some of them going through the experience of being shot by a stranger to understand better the whole process and feeling.
But one of the reasons I kept doing this has been the amazing response from the loners. Some took the shooting session as an ultimate therapy. A wake up call. Being a subject of an art project also helped: they feel useful, respected, creative and noticed. In fact I had the most wonderful emails from some of them who took the time to write me sharing their own experience and how it led them in a new life.
Loneliness exists all over the world, no matter which culture, faith, race or gender. And if you’re a young screenager you know that.
And here are some of the new photographs:
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“The Sacred Book of G” is a stream of consciousness, a thought provoking intimate journal written byGonzalo Bénard. After 3 days of brain death he reborn with a deep loss of memory. He reborn without any sense of his past — of his own roots — of his own self. Before that he’d spent his time creating defences to disguise his autism. He had lost it too. New born G had no memory and no defences.
“I, Energy” is a book on Cosmic Consciousness, Quantum Physics and Old Shamanism written by Gonzalo Bénard who not only lived in Himalayas with shamans and in a Buddhist monastery but also in the Western Sahara with old shamans. A guide on healing and transcendental meditation and how you can master your own mind.
Gonzalo Bénard is a lecturer, a tutor of autistic teenagers, and a visual artist. His photography has been part of the annual programs of several universities around the world, and are in several private and public art collections such as Museum of Serralves, Cultural Centre of Cascais or Sir Elton John’s. His works are in Hollywood productions and TV series.
You can see his work of photography at his webpage.