Welcome to my stories of belonging.
Even if after all of these years, I'm not sure whether that feeling of belonging is something I will ever attain.
In that light, what better place to exhibit this work than within the intangible in-between spaces of the internet? That fluid place of reinvention, where identities are reborn, and where notions of ones belonging breed through likes, posts and Tweets.
I have, in previous works, also dealt with identity, belonging and movement, exploring my parents' migration from Jamaica to the UK. The result of that project was a set of static photographs on a wall. Those photographs were the fragments of a higher and more fraught sense of being and belonging that I had not perceived was more intense until this child of migrants embarked upon leaving Britain.
I'm on the cusp of leaving the UK, to live in Montreal, Canada, at the end of this year. That fraught sense of being and belonging is enhanced then as my own migration story looms large upon the horizon. My selfhood, therefore, is being revived, questioned, and perhaps doubted.
Time and space are more significant than that room, that gallery, and those photographs which I exhibited about my parents last year. While my desire to experiment and express the same ideas and concepts remains, the structure of the internet allows for a more expansive sense of possibilities. I have written more in these new works, much more. Perhaps as words reflect my known world and images suppress and contain that which is unknown.
The internet is a dynamic archival space. Its multiplicity of facets navigated in an infinite amount of ways - just like how belonging seems to function for me. It is not one thing. My works explore not only my connection to the changing spaces around me, as in Another Place Like Home but also to the stories and histories which have shaped those spaces, and my experience of them as in - Schön ist die, Nacht.
So, I'm not sure where my story begins, or where it will end, or indeed even how the parts in between will affect you, if at all?
I don't even know whether this is a work about the past or one about the future, yet to come? Or even if the photograph, that entity which turns the present into death masks, which frame the past, is also the right tool?
But are narratives of the future any less fanciful than those of the past? Especially if we can agree that photography, as a document, is always only ever a fiction? Hopefully, my words, because there are a lot of them in this work, will help too to share my story of belonging.
Well, anyway, the answer lies in here somewhere, if you choose to take the time to delve in, explore, and connect with my story and with me - that child of migrants.
Nonetheless, I continue to mentally consign people and spaces to the states of either nostalgia or anticipation, as I ready myself to migrate from Smethwick to Montreal. Where I move from the past to the future in search of another place like home.
I will subvert and revise my narrative as time continues. As, much like myself, this narrative will be in an in a constant state of flux. How else can one examine the metaphysical concept of belonging if not through the prism of flux and uncertainty?
That said, if indeed our connections to the world and our feelings of belonging are never fixed, never resolved, and always being reassessed, why should our narratives pretend to be fixed and resolved?
In this light, my ‘mental spaces’ are shaped by and entwined to, the physical spaces, and those friends and strangers alike, who I have encountered within them and who've shared with me their thoughts on belonging. In often melancholy ways, shaped by stories from their past. Indeed, upon taking the portraits, I have asked people to think about what belonging means to them. It's odd how so many drift off into a world of their own as the intangible thoughts appear to become real.
Subjectivity and space are explored in this work, in ways which solicit the active participation of the audience, as users are not only encouraged to respond and reflect upon my images and texts but also actively use them within their narratives.
Life is a meandering journey, found somewhere in-between the two fixed points of cradle and grave, belonging is found in there somewhere, of course. But where, to what, and to whom it is assigned is for you to determine and for you to share.