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Views From Expatria. Photographing Place and the Self In Transience

Series: Out of Place

My project considers the role of place, and its relationship to the transient condition of being in ex-patria. Expatriation means the decision made by an individual to leave one’s home temporarily and re-settle in another country. Expatriation is different from immigration, which implies permanence. Expatriation is a form of transience. Frequent transits, a common drill for ‘expats,’ are associated with the psychosocial experience of leaving one’s home for another.

Transient citizens like myself face the complication of perpetually losing, de-rooting themselves from a place they could call ‘home’. Being an expatriate for more than 10 years and feeling like a perpetual traveler, within today’s ease of global mobility, I am concerned with the way social and psychological circumstances of ‘expatriation’ affect one’s imagery and how does this imagery inform the lives of others. Here, psychosocial extensions refer to specific social interchanges with others, material objects and the environment, that give way to certain human behaviors, for example; complex social interactions, attachment to home, place demystification, and chronic culture shock, to name a few.

Hence, the portfolio contributes creative parallels to the notions of transience, impermanence, and the state of being “out of place” (out of home). Can one in fact be “out of place” when everyone around him is “in place”? I wonder. What psychosocial mechanisms are at play and how do they affect the way one views places?

Within these themes, my subjects are grass blocks, protective barriers, prints of trees used in scaffoldings, vegetation, landforms for territorial marking, ornamental trees, water features, and gazebo objects. These are my protagonists that are seemingly universal in a state of banality, impermanent and somewhat displaced. More like the feeling of being an expat, metaphorically speaking. They look like they intervene in nature with a cause that is not really straightforward. I encounter them by accident in cities I reside, study and travel, therefore they are not bound to a specific geographical territory, its politics and cultural history. It takes a certain type of citizen with a particular “relevant” history to these countries, cities and/or sites to be able to empathically recognize their subtle, almost mundane presence and hence their causality and importance.

Drawing from art and landscapes studies, psychology, migration studies, human geography, my work opens up a discussion about photographic place and psychosocial complex feelings of the self in transience.