Accepted paper:

'I Dream of Home': Constructing an Archive of the Intangible


Sri-Kartini Leet (University of Northampton)

Paper short abstract:

This paper presents a photography project which collates images contributed by individuals which symbolize for them the idea of ‘home’. Exploring this approach in relation to ethnographic archives, issues around visual representation, personal narratives and contexts will be explored.

Paper long abstract:

The concept of 'home' has always occupied an indeterminate space: it can refer to a place that has been left behind, or a place to which one returns, or a new place that one, even temporarily, 'takes up'. 'Home' may therefore refer to a deeply familiar or foreign place, or it may simply be a passing point of reference. This lack of clarity in its meaning has also resulted in its being mythified as a site of utopian belonging.

Jointly supported by Ashoka U and PhotoWings, my project on photography explores ideas of 'home'. A range of participant/contributors (80-100) are photographed by me in the studio, and also asked to donate an image they regard as symbolic of their idea of 'home'. Personal history is often narrated within private settings, through oral means, and often through the sharing of photographs. This work asks contributors to reflect upon, and to find in their own personal archives or to make a new image, a photograph which conveys the essence of their relationship to a place of belonging. In this context, while particular locations are identifiable for some; for others, the theme or idea for the work resists a convenient scientific or empirical approach, and the archive reflects attempts to visualize a state of mind that is informed by lived experience, memory and fantasy.

How does a photograph communicate? Can personal images in a public context convey its significance? Contributors are also asked to explain their selection through written or oral means to provide a context for the work.

panel P27
Archives, Art and Text