Melanie Friend, No Place Like Home.

IMG_2418I chose to look at Friend’s book, No Place Like Home, as it presents calm in a situation of ciaos. Many refugees have been through difficult experiences, so it is important to know how to document them in a way that doesn’t make them uncomfortable. The book contains images and text of people from Kosovo, and it explores the situations they are living in.

I find this book very striking, and different from others as the information is all in the text. The text is very raw, it cuts through the calmness in the photographs once you have understood the context.

The chapter titles are very blunt. With this one, homes and gardens being a calm title, then a subtitle of ‘documenting the invisible’ suddenly changes the context of what you are about to see. The last chapter states ‘Death is closer than the shirt you are wearing’as its title, at this point in the book the images become more personal to the people in the frames, presenting old photographs and keepsakes.

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When you are looking at an image and text on the same page, i found they are quite hard to get your head around. It throws the reader, which is good for a context such as this, but you are looking at a home, with natural lighting, an aesthetically pleasing photograph. But the text always gives you a dark explanation to the area.

With the images of people, the reader can relate to the person by being able to see who they are. I find this changes the emotion you get, as you feel like you know the person, you sympathies with the image. But in a landscape, it is more shocking as you cant picture the IMG_2425person. I feel it is good to have a balance of both in a book, so you can see who you are learning about, whilst getting information about their lives which you wouldn’t get from portraits.

In all of the portraits, they are posed, with the person staring in to the lens. It is interesting how Friend uses staged portraits, next to the natural landscapes. Maybe she wants to draw a line between the two, as humans can control how they are presented.

I think it works well as a collaborative project as the people get their stories across through the text, and we can engage with them through the images. But i feel like i need to see more from the subjects, particularly when we only see a portrait of them, such as a personal item or home space.

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