Finding home in photography

Joost, Katrin ORCID logo ORCID: (2017) Finding home in photography. In: Visualising the Home Conference, 13-14 July 2017, University of Cumbria, Carlisle, UK. (Unpublished)

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Three years ago, my sister died. She lived in my childhood home. A few months later my father died. Everything changed. I felt not only grief, but alienated in an unhomely world where I am no longer a sister, or a daughter to a father. As a result of these experiences, I questioned what home meant to me, then explored more phenomenologically rigorously how home appeared to me. I realised that I only ever had a sense of home when it was disrupted, i.e. when I moved away or, more traumatically, through bereavement. If home is only recognisable through its loss, it is always already nostalgic. Similarly, photography has at its heart a temporal disruption, depicting the ‘has been’. Linking photography with phenomenology, therefore, may elucidate this complex theme. In this paper, I will trace the notion of home through four phenomenological themes with photographic work echoing these approaches. Firstly, Homes are not merely geographical locations, but rather lived experiences. Understanding our homes in terms of our lived world, then, shows homes as spaces where being at home takes place. Photography about homes, portrays spaces where habits unfold into habitations. Secondly, I will explore its temporal sense. Home is not momentary, but created and maintained through inhabiting, lingering and dwelling. Habits and rhythms underpin how we shape our homes around us. Photography might, potentially show traces of these processes and how they can unfold into homeliness over time. Thirdly, being at home is not necessarily described through being in a private place. For many, home is essentially formed through the people they live with. Being with others in homely familiarity shows another fundamental facet of home. Photographic work can explore the intimacy of family, whether in tenderness or in destructive dysfunction. Lastly, the sense of belonging translates into a social context, whether it is the belonging to a land, an era or a people. Intersubjectivity might show kinship reaching beyond the personal realm expressing the social dimension of home. Whether in complicit propaganda or in cultural criticism, photography contributes to the social narratives of belonging and exclusion. Throughout this exploration, I felt that home resists depiction. Like Barthes found his mother in a childhood image of her, I found moments of my home in photographs. Yet, these glimpses only highlighted the loss of past homes and complicatedness of my current ones.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
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Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Graphics and Photography
Additional Information: This was the keynote at the Visualising the Home Conference and Katrin was co-organiser of the conference.
Depositing User: Katrin Joost
Date Deposited: 02 May 2019 16:16
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 18:01


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