Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Show me your place and I’ll tell you who you are.

How important are our house, our living room, or our bedroom to us?
These places may be where we spend the biggest part of our lives (well and the office unfortunately). We customize them to match our tastes and interests, we make sure they are functional but also comfortable, that they feel like ‘home’. Home: a place where we feel good, safe, protected from the outside world, a place where we can fully be ourselves.   
I’ve spent months on the road and I moved from one apartment to another, from one country to another many times now. So I often wondered what home really means to me and I came to the conclusion that it’s not the place itself that matters, not the country or the street it’s in. What makes a place unique and special is the belongings that we take with us every time we move - a book, a photograph, a souvenir, a blanket - these few items that we cherish and keep close to us and the way we arrange them to create a desirable space where we’d like to retreat from time to time. For me it’s also the people that make a place be home, but today, that’s not the subject…
The surroundings we create for ourselves become a very personal place that I believe tells a lot about who we are…
Some photographers (too many?) have explored this idea by entering inside people’s, teenagers’s and children’s rooms.  Every time it feels like they’re entering more than a room, they’re entering people’s life. Each portrait becomes a story revealing details of intimacy and bringing us closer to the subject.

Rania Matar, A girl and her room

This project is about teenage girls and young women at a transitional time of their lives, alone in the privacy of their own personal space and surroundings: their bedroom, a womb within the outside world.’ 

We all know how difficult being a teenager can be. This is the time in life where each person searches for his inner self, tries to understand who he/she is. The teenager's room represents his or her own universe more than any other place, his or her own personality, interests and doubts. Rania Matar has succeeded in entering the private world of teenage girls 9in The US and in the Middle East) without voyeurism or judgmental eyes. You feel the trust between the photographer and her subjects, an unstated bond that makes the photographer invisible and her photographs so close and natural. More than staged portraits of girls in their rooms it's the life and feelings of the girls that Rania Matar shows with decency, elegance and some kind of retained emotional strength.

Lilly 15, Brookline MA, 2009

Izzy 18, Brookline MA 2011

Dima 19, Beirut Lebanon, 2010

Zoe #2, 2009

Jia Lin 18, Boston MA, 2010
More on Rania Matar: www.raniamatar.com/
Baudoin photographs Parisians at home. The typical and sometimes stereotypical (on purpose) Parisian ladies, the more or less famous Parisian jet setters , the unknown, his friends. Of course the situations are staged, but the places and the people feel real. And there is something unusual, shifted, fun, and playful about his portraits. Each interior reveals a part of the personality of each subject, but the fact that each person takes on a different posture makes it even stronger. I’m not sure how each photo shoot happens but it feels like he lets people do what they want, to choose their gesture, their position. They look like they’re having fun together, and for me that’s what makes each portrait so natural and unique. Isn’t it refreshing for once to look at photographs without questioning our inner selves, our society, our lack of involvement or our guilt? 

Judith, actress, métro Gare de l'est

Fifi, fashion designer, métro Blanche

Manon, fashion designer, métro Saint Germain

Elvis and Archie

Xavier and Gaspard, DJ, ELLE
 More on Baudoin: www.baudouin.fr/
Lucia Ganieva
Lucia Ganieva is a Russian photographer who now lives in the Netherlands. She likes to take portraits and particularly portraits of women. Many of her series could be detailed here, as she likes to combine portraits with images depicting her subject’s environment.  ‘Me & my home’ and ‘The Sunset of Fame’ are probably the two of her series that deeply explore this people-home relationship. Between the two, the one that appeals the most to me is the second one. The title says a lot about the story behind the images. But the title wouldn’t mean anything without the combination of these old women faces and a close up of their wall, a photograph of a time that is long gone. Full of nostalgia, there is something tender about these images and about these proud women. The interiors and décors also seem to belong to another age, in between a comfortable home and an old museum they’ve seen life go by. Everything is still there, but everything has faded even the grey blue paint on the walls…
Lucia Ganieva
Lucia Ganieva
Lucia Ganieva
More on Lucia Ganieva: luciaganieva.com
James Mollison – Where children sleep.
Where children sleep tells us stories of children from around the world, from all types of families. The concept is very simple: the portrait of a kid and a photograph of his bedroom. This book can be seen as a children’s book with nice pictures but what makes it stronger is the power of the portraits and the diversity of atmospheres captured in each room. The portraits and the rooms talk to each other to write these little stories of what it’s like being a child on earth. It talks about children’s rights, social issues, inequalities. But also about education, family, and tradition. The book is certainly appealing and I enjoyed going through it once but something about it bothers me. I guess it’s because even if the photographer’s intention is to show the children ‘as individuals, as equals, just as children’, they also feel like freakish stereotypes pretending to represent a category, a race or a country.  I find the book beautiful but there is something odd, maybe too staged about these children (without a smile?) that prevents me for connecting emotionally with the images… The images feel like an outsider is intruding in these kids’ homes. And some make me wonder: are these kids real?
James Mollison - Where children sleep
James Mollison - Where children sleep
James Mollison - Where children sleep
 More on James Mollison:  www.jamesmollison.com    
Also to explore more similar subjects, I recommend to check out Adrienne Salinger’s photographs, especially her series ‘At home-1995-98’ and ‘Teenagers – 1990-96’: http://www.adriennesalinger.com/  

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