What Happened To The Guinea Pig? is a love anecdote in images and words inspired by a true story in which I was given the task of looking after a guinea pig, the pet of my then partner, who, after inventing an extravagantly implausible story to justify his request, went off to the seaside with another woman literally in front of my photographer's eyes.

 

My partner and I had been in a relationship for a few years, and the affection between us was growing ever stronger. We were enjoying our best period when, one day, he came up to me with a story that he was about to go to a local mountain for a week or so in order to help his friend in the restoration of his collapsing house. He supported his story with details that ordinary words cannot describe. He kindly asked me to look after his guinea pig, which I gladly accepted to do and had the little animal brought to my place. But, I suspected something. On the day of his departure, he insisted on seeing me (as always), but at some point his mood suddenly shifted and things started developing in a very strange way. He was very tense, and I was beginning to feel I had been caught up in a web of lies. Impulsively, I ran out of his place without saying goodbye, followed by his calls and text-messages with poorly composed explanations and outbursts of emotion. I was in a state of shock.

 

In the following days, in reply to my request that he return from wherever he was, he only insisted on the strength of our relationship, and that he could not wait to see me again. What was I to do, but wait, left with his guinea pig as my hostage'?

 

As it turned out soon afterwards, he had gone off to the seaside, invited by a lady of awkward appearance, who'd been trading her cooking and dish-washing for occasional attention the kind of woman least likely to be anyone's rival.

 

In an attempt at disentangling this case, I have subsequently shared the story with carefully selected representatives of different generations, professions and millieux, and, without excessive sentimentality and with a touch of humour, taken photographs of them and questioned them as to what they would have done in my place with both my partner and his guinea pig. I have then juxtaposed their portraits with key excerpts from their statements.

 

This project, realized in 2017, is not only about a love story from a personal archive; it is about all of us and the many different ways in which we can perceive one and the same situation. It is also about communication and expression of our intimate thoughts and inner turbulences, and often our own projections. Along with the exposure of the fragile boundaries between the public and the private, the leitmotif that permeates this story about the guinea pig is the search for 'the truth' that may not even exist.

 

Katarina Radovic