Sonder is a five volumes photographic project presented in a box set. ‘Sonder’ is a fictional term coined by John Koenig – author of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows – who composes words and associates them to specific concepts he thinks are missing from the English dictionary. ‘Sonder’, as Koenig states, is “the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own;” however, while living this life, there are “thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed,” named as extras, “in which you might appear only once.” Koenig’s concept is the common thread through out my work.
My journey started in the area of Soho, London, beginning with Violet, an 89 year old lady. I asked her to pose for me while having her picture taken, this short-lived moment has been frozen through the medium of photography. This simple connection of taking a portrait is what has enabled me to establish an authentic connection with her. Consequently, I started seeing her on a daily basis, chatting, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes together. Whilst spending time with her, she introduced me to four other individuals, each one of them has subsequently led me to somebody else, creating an exponential effect.
This work is both a photographic and introspective journey into these character’s personal lives. I looked around attentively, trying to establish short but intense bonds with my subjects, and to capture these vivid moments in photographs. My journeys are based on trust and human engagement; there is a delicate balance between all people in the story, a thin thread that led me from one character to another, an essential thread that holds the narrative together. With no artistic plan or expectation, I stepped into this photographic journey not even questioning myself where exactly I would have arrived.
Rossella Castello, born 1994, is an Italian photographer and visual artist currently based in London. Primarily concerned with people, faces and lives, her purpose has often been to driven by the intimate lives of her subjects, which she explores through the documentation of their personal environment, lifestyle and perspective. Through photography, she is able to establish an intimate connection with her characters, getting to know them in a very true way. Castello’s latest work, a photobook entitled ‘Sonder’, has been shortlisted at various festivals, including the OrganVida Festival and the International Photobook Exhibition 2016, run by the RPS (Royal Photographic Society, London).
all images and text © Rossella Castello