Have you ever think about how a Stormtrooper enjoys his free time? What do they do when they are not shooting a rifle or being easily erased by a Jedi? Do they have time to go shopping or washing the dishes? If you’ve never had these questions in your mind, you will have them now. Spanish photographer Jorge Pérez Higuera imagines the daily life of Stormtroopers as part of a society, just like all of us.
In his last year of college, Jorge found a second-hand stormtrooper armor and started this Star Wars themed project, back in 2012. He wanted to show us what would happen if these pop icons were just like most of us, middle class workers with daily routine tasks, starting a discussion about anonymity, stereotyping and the routines of the working class.
“The Other Side represents the routine of diverse individuals in order to manifest the importance of daily routine by de-contextualizing a fictional character and showing its adaptation to our world”. So let’s see what they are up to when they are not under the Emperor’s orders!
When did you start photographing and why? Have you always had this predilection for fictional characters of the popular culture?
I started being photographer when I was in my third year at Fine Arts. The second question is not easy to answer because I think I hadn't but I have a lot of references of popular culture. Some of my stereotypes comes from popular culture so maybe pop culture is more important in my mind, in all our minds, actually, than I can imagine.
You are representing the mundane aspect of the daily routine of our society, but why did you choose stormtroopers for that?
I chose Stormtroopers for several reasons. First of all, the movies were made in the late 70's, late 90's and now they are coming back again, so they have the capacity to be liked by several generations. Moreover, the Stormtroopers have become a pop icon that we are all familiar with and that is why I think we can identify ourselves with them in some of my photographies. Lastly, I think the Stormtroopers represent the galactic working class (let's be honest, if that future existed, we would probably be Imperial Soldiers and not heroes or villains), we don't know anything about their identity because they are always wearing the uniform and we don't even know their gender, although we tend to presuppose it. These are the main reasons I chose them. I like to think that in my photography I can represent everybody and nobody in particular and I love the idea that the distribution of roles is made by the spectators’ imagination in order to know if they are males, females, teenagers or elderly.
Why did you represent daily routine? What did you want to tell with this project?
The most important thing for me is to value the everyday life, underlining all the fun aspects in each tiny little detail from our day-to-day life. If this message doesn’t fully come across, I would still be satisfied knowing that people can feel connected to some of my photographs, even if it’s simply by bringing a smile to their faces or laughing out loud. If it is indeed the latter, I would feel utterly satisfied.
Is this project a critic about society or a representation of something we all have in common?
It’s a mixture of both. Obviously there are many common situations but it is the viewer who must think and decide if it is only representation or also critical.
In some images, like the one in the supermarket for example, I suppose you had lot of spectators and so on, what’s the funniest story behind a shoot?
I had a lot of funny stories making this project. Sometimes people wanted a picture with us or only with the helmet. It was very common to stop shooting because people wanted to know what are you doing and why.
I think the funniest story was with a woman running across the street; she was very excited and she wanted a picture with us because her nephew was a fan. For her joy and excitement, today we still think that she hasn’t a nephew.
Other stories wasn’t so funny at the moment, I can remember the day that I was taking pictures in a gas station, and when my friend went to pay with the costume, the guy of the store thought that he wanted to rob. It wasn’t a great idea coming into the store with the gun too.
You say you like the idea that everybody can imagine, from your images, their own vision about how the stormtroopers actually are, if they’re older or younger, male or female, or how’s their personality, but how do you imagine them?
Some of my pictures are autobiographical, so I can’t imagine different situations, I only see parts of my life when I saw my pictures, regardless of who was in the suit.
Do you have new upcoming projects?
Yes of course, now I’m working with privatization of public spaces by billboards, ads, commercials, screens… I hope you can see it soon.