Jill Barker
Yuki 217, Ryo 268

11 May – 9 July 2006

The Sonoda project is a collection of digital portraits of students and staff at Sonoda Women’s University in western Japan, where Brisbane artist Jill Barker was teaching for two years. The images act as an aide-de-memoire for the artist, at first assisting her to recognise and remember strangers, and later a reminder of friends and experiences.
As Jill Barker states, ‘Most of the participants found the request to photograph their faces in close-up to be unusual and daunting, in a culture where it is customary to take many photographs, but usually only in particular ways (usually groups of people). Nevertheless, asking permission ‘broke the ice’, and many people graciously agreed to be photographed.’
For viewers, Barker’s images of faces are frank and disarming. As Barker observes, they ‘provoke the kind of close looking at differences and similarities, and engagement with expression, that make up our immediate impressions of others.’  What began as a collection of faces of strangers became, for Jill Barker, a record of her interactions in the university, and a reminder of what she came to know about each person and their experiences together.