Outsiders is a series interviews with extraordinary and misunderstood people which examines how we judge others through prejudice, appearance and ignorance.
Through these encounters the series hopes to examine how we judge others through appearance and preconceptions. These people are all extraordinary in their own way - but you can judge that for yourself. More interviews will be released over the coming months. To keep up to date, subscribe to my mailing list or follow me on twitter @gazcook
I've worked on this book since 2008. It's a series of controversial interviews exploring the lives of unique, extraordinary and misunderstood people.
Outsiders contains 20 interviews and portrait photographs on subjects as diverse as religion, war and train spotting.
Interviews include BNP chairman Nick Griffin, a British soldier injured by ‘friendly fire’, a cerebral palsy sufferer seeking sexual fulfilment and a transsexual dominatrix.
There are some darker subjects in the book - areas of life many people are too horrified or too scared to consider. Issues explored include racism and the usually shunned and emotive issue of paedophilia.
There are very valid reasons why these are included. I strongly believe that education and being properly informed on specific issues is the only way you can make proper social decisions.
I travelled across three continents – America, Europe and Asia – and visited seven countries for the project.
In mid-America, I spent a day with the homosexual-hating Westboro Baptist Church, a group composed of mainly one family who picket the funerals of American soldiers claiming their deaths are God’s punishment for their own country’s support of homosexuality and other sins.
In the Czech Republic I met a treasure hunter who has searched for treasures and myths across the globe.
In Israel and the Palestinian Territories, I spent time with two teenagers, one Israeli and one Palestinian, who have both lost family members in the long-running conflict.
And in Holland I met and interviewed four paedophiles in order to explore the difficult and often misrepresented subject and how it can be dealt with by society.
By presenting these interviews side by side, I'm exploring how we judge others through prejudice, appearance and ignorance.
Through these profiles of individuals who inhabit sections of society alien to most of us, the project explores the human characteristic of judging which can often lead to prejudice, racism and hate.
My aim has been to present stories and people’s experiences in an open and as honest way possible, enabling people to evaluate subjects they may have preconceived ideas about – then also look at their own behaviour and attitudes.
All the interviews have been presented as direct-quotes pieces to minimise the impact of my opinions in the project.
We all judge and pre-judge people but through some fantastic stories I want Outsiders to help us look at our own thought processes and behaviours, however distasteful some of these may be.
Selected quotes from Outsiders:
Treasure hunter: ‘They came at us with spears crying ‘argghhhhh!’
Converted Geordie Muslim: ‘People see a Muslim woman and you can see all the word association flashing through their minds: Bin Laden, terrorism.’
Homeless man: ‘My Thai wife paid someone to push me off a third-storey balcony.’
British soldier: ‘I was on fire but I couldn’t see much, the flash had burned my eyes. Just thought I’m going to die.’
Westboro Baptist Church member: ‘If you’re going to dedicate your life to serving yourself, and your lust, God hates you. That’s what the Bible says.’
Paedophile: ‘I don’t regret the relationships, only the sexual part of it.’
Israeli teenager: ‘Some of my friends in Israel, they don’t see the Palestinians as humans.’
Continents visited for Outsiders: North America, Europe, Asia.
Countries visited for Outsiders: USA, Czech Republic, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Ukraine, Holland, United Kingdom