Photographer Johanna Siring has a deep interest in strangers. When she attended this year’s Roskilde Festival in Denmark, she decided to meet strangers in a very unconventional way; by kissing them. When asked why she chose kissing over the traditional handshake or even an intimate hug, Siring gave a scientific answer:
“Kissing sparks all the nerve endings in your lips, causing a release of dopamine and a surge in oxytocin. It’s an instantaneous stress reliever and creates an immediate emotional bond between two people.”
This festival is not the first time The Norwegian photographer pulled a stunt like this. In fact, Siring packed her bags and moved to New York to continue her project.
Johanna approaches strangers on the street, asks them to pose for her and then asks for permission to kiss them and take a photo of their face immediately after they’ve gotten way more intimate than strangers should.
To make the participants feel comfortable, Johanna allows the stranger to call the shots when it comes to their kiss. “Some would give me a quick kiss and then die of laughter afterward, while some went straight for making out,” she says.
The before and after photos, Siring explains, show how after a kiss, the strangers become more familiar with each other. “The most interesting part was that I kind of felt that I knew them a little bit after the kiss, and I think this feeling is reflected in the second portraits.”
The big question remains; why is Johanna Siring going to such lengths to bond with strangers?” The artists believe that fresh bonds between people who do not know each other are key to fighting against ignorance and judgment of others. “By creating new relationships and learning about the thoughts and ideas of strangers, we might be able to build bridges and combat ignorance and judgment,” Johanna explains in an interview.
Siring’s participants are diverse in age, race, gender, and appearance. In the pre-kiss photos, you can see the people portraying themselves in a very calculated way. However, the post-kiss pictures reveal a more genuine and relaxed person. These results give backing to Siring’s theory; you can learn more about a person after a bit of intimacy.