Leopold Kessler had this project titled Schnorrer running since 2006 where he has collected 58 photos of strangers asking him for cigarettes. For the biennale, he is presenting these photographs as a single channel video, in loop.
Kessler’s work explore the boundary of human relationship, both physical and emotional by presenting an unusual interaction between two strangers. The request of cigarettes would be granted if they were to agree for Kessler to take their photographs.
The border between outsiders and individuals (Kessler himself) is broken as the agreement takes place. Photograph suggests invasion of privacy as it portrays individualism. Each pictures reflect unique identities and it is a challenge for the strangers to be documented. There is then, a connection, a gist of trust and familiarity bonded between the two.
The use of cigarettes as visual symbol is also interesting. The object is widely used as a tool of communion. A portrayal of interaction and exchanging trust is further developed. The object too not only becomes a currency of exchange but a representation of ownership which has been passed from the artist to strangers. It is as if the mark of the artist has been left on the 58 people he had worked with and likewise, the marks of the strangers are now on the cigarettes which have become strangers somewhere on the road, recycled bins, or even destroyed.
The project is ongoing and maybe if you are lucky, you might bump into Kessler and get your photo taken.