Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Bite 20: Duane Michals - The House I Once Called Home, 2003

The House I Once Called Home, 2003
The raw material of photography is light and time. Each photograph then, although appearing solid, contains the ephemeral. This is a fundamental paradox of the medium and the key reason for its inherent ambiguity.

Duane Michals in his series The House I Once Called Home combines an exploration of the ephemerality of photography with that of place, returning to his childhood home to recreate family photographs, eerily absent of people.

Here he stands in for an uncle. The courtyard has now overgrown; nature has reclaimed where people once lived. The middle image, a transition between the two states - then and now - is inhabited by ghosts of the past. For Michals they are still present in this space, as he pensively overlooks it. Any understanding of a sense of place, of location, then, is inseperable from an exploration of personal history, a meditation on time past. The photographic medium, by its very nature, is equipped to explore these concerns.