This is Home.
Home is what we came back to after an exhausting day at school. Home is what we thought of on our way back from work. We came home after a long and tiring day. And then, one day in the early summer of 2020, we were quarantined in our homes. Boundaries of school and play became hazy, forms of work and rest blurred and our definition of home melted like a biscuit in our evening tea.
In late 2021, CPB Prism, held a series of photography workshops with children from Chennai and Delhi in an effort to revive the crumbled definition of home. The workshop explored the various meanings of home that have emerged since the start of quarantine and our developing relationship with home.
This exhibition, This is Home, showcases the journey of rediscovering home in times of pandemic. The photographs in the exhibition reflect the continuous dialogue the eighteen participants of the workshop had with their environment and how those conversations are translated into an image.
The exhibition explores these multitude of dialogues and discoveries through five perspectives: House, People, Objects, Neighborhood and Self. Through each of these perspectives, the participants construct a new narrative of home grounded on an increasing familiarity with the new environment.
Home as House
When the voices of the classmates filled the bedrooms of our participants early in the morning, mixed with the whistle of cooker from the kitchen, the standing notion of home as house began to fall apart. The bedroom became the area to study, to rest, to play and to sleep. The four walls of the house had to soon accommodate all aspects of life. It was in an attempt to rationalize the chaos, the young photographers set out to explore how they have developed a new relationship with their house. From forging secret spots to seeking morning peace, the participants explore spaces in their house that have evolved in its uses and now offers itself as a place of respite and relaxation.
Home as Loved Ones
The old proverb Absence makes the heart grow fonder found new meaning in a quarantined life. From not being able to see friends and close ones for an extended period of time to living in constant and close proximity with family members; the relationship with people changing. Living in the constant presence of people around us demanded empathy and support. It is the translation of these virtues into action that our participants set out to capture. In this perspective, the participants explore the many forms of intimacy, warmth and belonging while balancing it with its binary opposite- yearning, isolation and melancholy. The photographs showcase the sense of acceptance and comfort offered by people in our immediate surroundings while constantly praying and hoping for safety of loved ones separated by distance and circumstances.
Home as Object
Our favorite objects conceal our many secrets, hopes and aspirations. Objects transcends itself from its form and function to become totems of time lost or future yet come. It is to capture the voices concealed in the objects we surround ourselves with, our participants probed into their environment and to see it deeply. From the photo frames on walls to family histories tucked away in an old almirah, from clothes kept on the distant chair to the tiffin box now resting on the top shelf of the kitchen, the objects in our immediate space convey our multiple identities. It is through these objects, the participants set out to explore and express themselves and find a sense of easement and reassurance. These photographs are results of the multiple journeys and shapes these dialogue took as each participant approached the objects in their unique manner.
Home as Neighborhood
In the times of pandemic, the sense of community strengthened. To protect ourselves from the invisible virus, communities bonded together and formed a tightly packed support system. The members of our community and the shared public spaces offered a small bubble of safety and cheer. While the life as we knew it was temporarily was put on hold, the members of the shared community took up roles of mentors and confidants, offering the temporary respite from a mundane life. From a quick session of tittle-tattle to offering a willing ear, the members of our community came together to form an ecosystem of compassion and empathy. The built environment also contributed to these tiny ecosystems where shared spaces became spots of social interactions and daily rituals. Through this perspective, our young photographers explore the public spaces and their new ecosystems. In addition to taking photographs, our participants also incorporated the presence of sounds in their surroundings that shaped their environments.
Check out the video to experience the sounds captured by the participants:
Home as Self
A single letter word I. The concluding perspective of the exhibition focuses on the enduring strength that stems from a source within us. Celebrating the persistence and perseverance of the human spirit through challenging times, the participants approach themselves and their inner voice of reason, stamina and will. Reflecting on themselves and the individual journeys undertaken by them through the course of a pandemic that continues. Discovering joys and sense of humor and a constant attempt to discover themselves through the hard and the easy times, the perspective celebrates the self as the very first home that houses our essence and shelters us from the world.
This project has been made possible through the dedication and hard work of the participants of this workshop to whom CPB Prism extends their heartfelt gratitude. The team would also like to acknowledge the generous contributions and faith of our contributors NalandaWay Foundation and Photo SouthAsia to whom we are deeply indebted.
For more information and behind the scenes fun, check out our blog here