If you knew you would never return to your house, but strangers would go inside and learn about you from what they see, what would you leave out and what would you hide?
Things We Leave Behind, my photographic installation, is on exhibit at Fellows of Contemporary Art (FOCA) in Chinatown, Los Angeles. It is a three artist exhibit titled Nmemonic Ritual and runs through August 18, 2012.
Things We Leave Behind was photographed inside the home of a deceased man. He was a hoarder. Creepy is the word I use for describing the feeling on the first day of shooting. I was wondering if the ghost of this man would punish me for intruding. I only photographed large sections of the rooms, not wanting to invade this man’s life, even though permission was given to be there.
Each time I returned, I gave myself permission to study his belongings. I began to know him, and strangely, liked him. Sure, he had his issues – who doesn’t. The house was a filthy, chaotic mess, but what he had in that house was interesting. His bookshelf revealed someone who loved music, literature, religion, and visual arts. He was searching for love and a reason for existence. Just like the rest of us.
I was able to acquire a great deal of the man’s furniture, books, personal writings, boxes of junk, and a whole slew of stuff anyone else would have thrown out years ago. I bought a $500 shed to house the mice and insect infested belongings. I told an art critic that I must be crazy for becoming a hoarder of a hoarder. She responded with “you’re not crazy, you’re an artist”. Things We Leave Behind is a recreation of his home on the day he left and never returned, and the photographs documenting the way it looked.
There is one more step to this exhibit. I am asking visitors to sit on the couch and be filmed answering the question: If you knew you would never return to your house, but strangers would go inside and learn about you from what they see, what would you leave out and what would you hide? The answers will be compiled and shown during this exhibit and the next one in June.
Things We Leave Behind was previously exhibited at Biola University, in La Mirada, CA, from March 19 – April 5, 2012. It accompanied Window Peeping, which was displayed in Biola’s main gallery, in a solo exhibit. The opening reception is March 20 from 7 -9 p.m. It was also shown at Coastline Community College, in an exhibit titled PHOTO + PLUS, curated by David Michael Lee. Other photographers included Laurie Brown, Jerry Burchfield, Gina Genis, Robert Heinecken, Janice Lowry, Douglas McCulloh, and Clifton Meador.
UPDATE: Photo + PLUS was given a rave review in the OC Weekly issue of February 23, 2012. Read the review here.