Anybody can find where you are domiciled, but only you know where your home is. Your domicile is usually your place of abode, residence, housing or dwelling. Your domicile is your legal residence: where you vote, are employed, register your car, have a bank account, school your children, get sued and get divorced. Above all, your domicile is where you intend to return after traveling. You can have several residences at one time, but only one domicile. On the other hand, your home is harder to define. Home is a symbolic concept because it differs for everyone and is composed of numerous abstract ingredients like comfort, safety, privacy, stability, security and love. We know these states are real, but they are subjective terms; loaded with undefinable feelings based on shifting emotions and slippery memories. We also know the very real feeling when any of these ingredients is absent. The title of this show: “where’s HOME” is not only an implied question about geography, but an inquiry about self definition.
The Law agrees that there is something hallowed about the spaces where people live. Not only is the home protected in two Constitutional Amendments (III: “no quartered soldiers” and IV: “unreasonable searches and seizures”), but common law repeatedly reflects the “castle doctrine” in giving extra protection to homes over other properties and spaces. Perhaps because the experience of home is both so fundamental and invisible, descriptions of it tend to reflect this elusiveness. Descriptions like: “nurturing oasis”; “where the self is formed”; “A home isn’t just where you are, it’s who you are.”; “A home is an additional family member.”; “A house can be used as a warehouse, a rest house or as an office, but a home is always meant for a family to live peacefully.” and finally, “A home is an abode that provides peace, comfort, happiness, security and confidence. These are qualities that you do not expect in a house which is just a structure made of bricks and mortar.” Home is not so much a place as an alignment of unique accidents. Because it is a complex symbolic concept and not a finite recipe, it is not predictable or exact; but made up of countless random acts of everyday living.
Before I knew how the psychologists, behaviorists, anthropologists and others defined the concept of home; I was photographing what you could call the poet’s idea of home. Regardless of what I was shooting over the years, there was something, some presence, inhabiting some sites where people live or once lived that I couldn’t ignore. I could see it better without the people there, they confused the issue for me and the photographs became portraits instead of my true interest which was the spaces that reflected the people. And long before those photographs were made there was a thrill-seeking kid. I knew of several “haunted” places in my town where (usually exaggerated) crimes or horrors had occurred. There was an abandoned apartment, a charred outbuilding, a junkyard car and a small, hidden woods space. In all cases there was both visual traces of onetime inhabitants and another kind of evidence only felt as “not alone”. I have chosen the photographs for “where’s HOME” both to resonate with the concepts of home; and to share with viewers several instances when I tried to render the perceived presence of homes and non-homes both past and present.
Nicolas Bowen 2014