My interdisciplinary commission for the Inhabit project has come to a close with the week-long installation of To Be Home in the Pavilions, Birmingham, in March/April 2011.
The installation, a multi-screen audiovisual piece, is based around 37 participants who live in and around the Birmingham communities of Handsworth and Stirchley. Through the work the participants reflect upon many different aspects of community life, considering what we may have lost over the years, and what we need to treasure and nurture to encourage a healthy and interconnected local culture.
Their voices are set against a sequence of moving imagery recorded in each location over the winter and spring months of 2011. The images are moving portraits of both local people and place that create an interplay between the participant’s perceptions and visual appearances.
You can see images from the installation here and below is a link to the screen version of the film that was the centre piece.
I think To Be Home was understood and enjoyed by most people who experienced it, although I neglected to leave a comments book to get specific feedback. I did get one interesting comment from a friend of one of the participant’s from Stirchley - a lady in her 70’s - who said "well yes I do like it, but really - what’s it actually for?” An amusing but also serious question and I can leave that for others to answer in their own way. My own simplistic answer goes like this - it is my own attempt to meaningfully connect with other people, to represent them and how they see the world is a powerful way that shows us as we actually are - all essentially the same, but all expressing this sameness in our own unique way.
Although this project was only 5 months in the making from start to end, it feels like it was a long and eventful journey. While there is a sense of relief and satisfaction after successfully realising what was a challenging project, if feels like this end point marks a new phase in the development a much bigger and broader project. To Be Home takes an expanded documentary approach that is non-narrative and contrapuntal - the juxtaposition and interweaving of images and personal points - to create momentary readings of everyday life. I think the next phase is to further explore and expand this multiscreen and surround-sound approach to more deeply reflect and celebrate the multiple-story (and multi-dimensionality) nature of life as we see and experience it now.