It was over seven years ago when this space was our home. Just last Fall, I stood outside the steel gates. In the past, the doors were always swung wide open for the cars to make their way down the driveway. The gatekeeper was always there, smiling warmly and welcoming us into our home. It would usually have been a Wednesday night, the start of the weekend then, and we would always begin it with dinner at my grandfather’s house. Now, I stood at the gates. Mesmerized, I watched people wandering past it, paying this space no mind. A part of me wanted to walk away from it and never confront its new state. Actually, all of me wanted to walk away from it and completely forget it, and let the house be forgotten. But just as I began to lift up my leg, just as I began to tell myself I can’t do it, I gripped the dirwaza or little cut out door found in the gate, and made my way in. I walked through the halls and doors that occupied my memories. Suddenly, sounds and smells, familiar faces and distant memories all came back to life. Things I forgot, people who are no longer here, all came back to me instantly.
With that moment, the process to this project started. I went home and collected all the images I could find of family members sharing that space. It took a lot more visits for me to be able to interact with the space as it exists today, without all the emotional baggage that came with the first time. I found inspiration in the walls that shared our memories, and the images and stories that circulated amongst the various conversations I had with all my family members. After doing a little bit of research, I decided to base my practice off Hai Bo, a photographer, who creates diptychs of old portraits and retakes the images of those same people today. With those inspirations, my endless possibilities for the project started. I knew I needed to create a portrait of place, and through that the stories will continue to live on. Using my vintage Polaroid, I went back to the places where the old images shared with me were taken, and from there took an image of its present state. The end result brought forth an interesting visual. The past looked more relevant to the present, in opposition to the images that were taken with my Polaroid. I unlocked a treasure box of time, memory and space.