The Desk (from A room in a strange land)

The desk is the largest flat surface in the room, and becomes each visitor’s most personalised space.

Sometimes showing glimpses of home, often a collection of paraphernalia show-casing the places and experiences enjoyed by the transient visitor.

A dumping ground for books, iPods, mementos of nights out, pamphlets from historic visitor attractions ticked off a list, dictionaries, handouts, hairbrushes, small change, mobile phones and maps. A short-story in one life’s narrative.

Few people display physical photographs as they come armed with laptops and phones that carry electronic images of their loved ones, or like Rodrigo who wore his heroes as tattoos: Madonna and Frieda Kahlo displayed with pride “for me it’s art”. 

Would a desk in another city be the same?

 

The words above, along with these images form part of a broader piece of work in progress.

At home we have a spare room, which we have rented out predominately to foreign students on short-term stays since spring 2010. To date we have hosted thirty five people from fourteen countries.

I was inspired by the experience and decided to embark on a project to photograph our visitors. I wanted to explore two ideas: that essentially all people share a lot of commonalities regardless of where we are from, and also how individuals fill the same space in their own unique way.

I began by photographing the people in the room and conducting a small interview about each person. This presented it’s own challenges due to language barriers, and I avoided asking everyone as it was difficult to convey my intention. I guess it could seem a little odd to have your host ask to photograph you in your bedroom!

As the project progressed it became more observational and I took more photographs of people’s belongings around the room. The desk stood out as an island, lending itself to it's own story.

If you would like to know more about this work, please get in touch

Rodrigo from Brazil

Rodrigo from Brazil

Cassiano from Brazil

Cassiano from Brazil

Simon from Switzerland

Simon from Switzerland

Ray from Switzerland

Ray from Switzerland