guisers-30.jpg

The Guisers

GUISER, n. "in modern times one of a party of children who go in disguise from door to door at various festivals, esp. Halloween"

- from a Dictionary of the Scots Language.


In Scotland, Guisers go round neighbours' doors on Halloween during a night of community and sharing. This centuries old tradition was taken to America by immigrants from various Celtic origins and with other cultural influences became the American ‘trick or treat’.

 

 

Over three Halloweens (2015-7), I photographed children who visited my home as Guisers. Their highly individual costumes displayed not only their originality but also conveyed aspects of the inner world of the child. 

Some children offered information on who they were and why they chose to dress as such - a Victorian gentleman who liked to speak 18th Century English. Others kept their motivations to themselves – I am ‘Untitled’ said one boy with a bloody skeleton arm hanging off and bandages from injuries.

Some children took their influences from popular culture whilst others created mash ups of fantasy play. Costumes ranged from the elaborate to the expected and this multiplicity of choices in selecting their disguise offers insight into the complexity of the childhood world. The Guisers allow us briefly back into a child’s mind as they roam the streets on Halloween, dressed as some else, being someone else. 

The project has 60 images in total.


I am ‘Untitled’ said one boy with a bloody skeleton arm hanging off and bandages from injuries.