The idea for this project took place in 2012, during a daytrip to Coney Island, in the outskirts of New York. On my way back to Manhattan, I began noticing strangers who were waiting to cross the street under the blistering sun of a New York summer day. Their collective posture - that of mere pedestrians waiting for the green light - made them very similar, yet, their clothes and tattoos, their anatomy, skin colour and attitude (introspective or euphoric expressions) distinguished them apart. I photographed them with my small-format Leica and kept these photos as simple mementos of a traveller. Later on, when I looked over them on my computer, an urge took over me to photograph and organise scenes like that in different places around the world, highlighting one of the most striking paradoxes of the human being, so obliviously and conspicuously registered in that first instance: that of being alike yet different, that wish to be part of a group and at the same time, the need to stand out.
This ambition of mine, to create representative panels of diverse yet generic human identities, drew me to many countries and cultures. A year later, I returned to Coney Island, this time well equipped with a medium-format camera that has as its main characteristic a very high definition, for, ideally, these photos should be amplified when exhibited in order to allow the spectator to roam its eyes over the images and to identify details that even the photographer failed to notice when releasing the shutter. I also decided to photograph more particular groups, such as the orthodox Jews of Crown Heights, the African-Americans of Harlem, as well as suited up executives on their way to work in London, on a typical English winter morning. What’s more, most of the photos derived from my fortuitous search for places where the influx of people seemed adequate to my instincts.
As I placed the camera at a zebra crossing and pointed it at pedestrians, I faced a form of instinctive suspicion. Nevertheless, as expected, I witnessed expressions of fashion, transformations of urban life and the ethnic plurality of the major metropolises – all framed by the captured scenes and characterized by the climatic conditions of each location, determining the passers-by’s clothing choices and mood.
The process of creation of these photos followed some strict principles: the takes were exclusively carried out at zebra crossings or security passages, and the people were present in reality at the locales where they are shown, even though some of them were not photographed side by side, as shown in the final copy. I made some montages in order to emphasise the very assumptions that led me to cultivate this idea. As rational as a project like this may seem, the unexpected will always pervade when dealing with the photographic decisive moment. During the years that I dedicated myself to this project, I quickly came to realize that even with a tripod in hands and a precise plan in mind, not much can be controlled when you have a camera in the middle of the streets. The streets are alive and this liveliness is imposed upon us.