I have been moving around a lot and sometimes I feel home everywhere and nowhere at the same time. No matter of where I am, there is always something or someone that I miss, but also something or someone that I have gained. But I sometimes do wonder what, after all, “home” really means?
Portuguese artist Rui Telmo Romão has done a photographic book project titled At home/ EM CASA, whose idea was initialized by a look out of his flat´s window and a compass that he had in hand and turned out into a series of photographies exploring places where he feels at home ”All these places that we visit stay with us somehow. In our skin, in our memory, all the great stories that we can tell about the amazing experiences lived there.”
What was the initial inspiration for this photographic book project about the topic “home”? Did you feel the need of finding out what “home” means to you or where it is?
I wouldn’t say that I was looking for the meaning “home” or where it was. I just started to have a feeling that “home” is not a specific place. Every time I went on a hike or climb I had these growing feeling of connection with that place that I still don’t know how to explain. All these places that we (as an individual) visit stay with us somehow. In our skin, in our memory, all the great stories that we can tell about the amazing experiences lived there. After spending a night sleeping outdoors under a rock or a tree that feeling stays even stronger.
Last spring I was in my flat looking out the window observing the street and trying to figure out how far could I see. I’ve moved there in autumn and I knew I was moving out in a few months. I did feel it as my house, although I knew it was just another house. So I was in the discovery process looking to every corner, enjoying every little space in the flat. And I realized I could almost see the house where I first lived. The one that sheltered me for the first two decades of my life. I went to get my compass to measure the azimuth of that house, just for the fun of it. That was the beginning of these idea, at that window, playing around with a compass.
You’ve lived in eight different houses, four cities and three countries. Is your “real home” still the place where you grew up? Or have you found new homes in all the places you spend some time?
The best part of moving into a new place is to discover it, find the things that you like and the ones that you don’t. It can be a great living room perfect to throw a party or the shower that runs out of hot water after the first minute.
Like a small kid you find new things all the time. Not only in the place it self, but also new friends, streets, corners, customs, traditions and new ideas. I feel like all these things are the ones that make you feel at home. And I was lucky enough to find them in those different places that lived in.
It’s funny because when I was living abroad there where the typical homesick days. I would get out of the house and wander in the city. Now that I’m back in Lisbon for four years I sometimes feel homesick of those cities.
So if I understood right, you took every image in a place that has a special meaning for you. Can people read in the book the personal story behind each place or you leave it up to the observer to think about that?
It’s up to the observer.
In the book there is brief artist statement explaining the process and a prolog by my friend and writer Wolf S. where he gives is own point of view. But in the end I leave it up to the observer to build up any connecting or story in between the images.
I’ve been asked where these or that photography was taken and although is no secret, what I found interesting is not knowing it.
In the end all the images where taken “at home”.
What´s the deal with the part of the project where you measure the distance and direction of the place you photograph, related to the house you were born and raised in? What is the meaning and purpose of that?
It’s part of the process of creating every single image. I chose the place to photograph but I do not chose the point of view or framing. The goal was to create an image without an aesthetic choice.
It’s not a random choice, since I am the one selecting the places that I will photograph. And I do it through the experiences and feelings towards those places. So I tried to create a process where I would chose the framing in relation to feeling “at home” instead of a “I like these landscape”. I would put the camera down in the tripod, take out the gps and compass, rotate the camera to the right alignment and then look at the viewfinder.
Some of the results are surprising. For example the image 90,05º 26,587 km was taken on top of a hill. If I would have tilted the camera 90º either side you cold see this incredibly landscape with the sea underneath.
It is also a way of creating a geographical connecting between the images. Although there is no reference to the starting or central point that is the home where I grew up, you can visualize and draw these relationship.
What have you gained and learned from that project for yourself – has it somehow changed your perspective for certain things?
All the process has been a great challenged. From the beginning where I was shooting the images and I kept being amazed with the unexpected result. To the collaboration work with the designers from vivóeusébio creating the book.
All the production evolved in the on going crowd funding campaign has been a great challenge. I had no idea how to do it before. I spent hours reading blogs and websites about it. That was probably the hardest bit since it is the part of the project where I really don’t feel comfortable.
Tell us shortly how people can support your photo book project with the “crowd funding”?
Visit indiegogo.com/athome. It’s that simple. There you can find a video and a description of the project.
Through the website anyone can contribute with a donation. No matter how much you will always get something in return. You could be credited as a supporter, get a book copy, a photo gallery print or even become the patron of the project. The idea is to involve people in the process and create some sort of a book pre selling.
5 things you cannot live without?
That’s easy! Judo. Mountaineering. Chocolate. Music and films. Family and friends. Does that makes it 7 things? If I stay away from any of these things my brain starts to melt down and doing strange noises.
The most important thing in life for you is?
Friendship. Plain and simple friendship.