For moments or hours every day, urban dwellers often find themselves temporarily trapped in enclosed spaces, bathed in artificial light, surrounded by garish colors, and mired in a sluggish state of pause. This can happen in a subway station, a waiting room, an indoor shopping mall, an airport lounge… While the people may be physically present, their minds and spirits are often elsewhere.
The blurred portraits of anonymous strangers made by Russian photographer Alexei Vassiliev capture this phenomenon with surprising, emotional force. Some of his subjects look as if they are nervously fluttering inside a hovering mirage. Others appear serene and glowingly transcendent. His photographs convey a sense of physical confinement and spiritual wandering. These strangers (identified only by an arcane numbering system) are unaware of the scrutiny of the camera. They are lost in a limbo of introspection — not aloof, but quietly caged, temporarily suspended, slowed, restricted, waiting, existential.