Agoraphobia revisited: the Instagram ‘Streetview Portraits’ page

When i had a look at Sarah Stefanutti’s pictures of her grandma (see preceding text), i thought instantly of Jacqui Kenny. She’s the woman behind the Instagram account ‘Streetview Portraits’. She’s highly agoraphobic too. She’s afraid to go out, so she travels without leaving her front door: she travels via Google Streetview.

What i like about her Streetview Portraits is that, through the eyes of Jacqui, functional images that were taken by the passing Google car become art. Look at her sense of composition, colour, her empathy filtering through.

She seems to have a preference for wide, desolate landscapes. This longing for the wide and vast, coming from someone who’s afraid of it, no less than overwhelms me. The tragic beauty of it is startling: it’s as if Jacqui has a vague memory of impregnable vast spaces she once felt and still feels attracted to. An impossible desire. The wide open road is her Muse: she adores but cannot catch her.

If you ask me, Sarah and Jacqui show us two sides of the same coin. Sarah’s showing us what she sees: her grandma operating in her (in our eyes very limited) space. Jacqui Kenny’s subject is what she (Jacqui) sees: a selection of pictures taken by the Google car. But actually, in both, it’s the agoraphobic who’s talking.

I look at Jacqui’s pictures again and realize: we, non-agoraphobics travel the Earth, deep inside knowing that the longing for the view, as well as the recollection of it, very often was and is better than the view itself. It’s all in our head.

Maybe Jacqui Kenny, in a way, is the wisest of us all.

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