I love Hoda Afshar's portraits and videos from Manus Island (it's Australia's Refugee Devil's Island - you go in but you n...
Monday, 7 July 2008
One Mile from Home
We all have our Geography of Nowhere moments. Mine came in Burlington, Ontario. My wife was born there and grew up there. Her parents, refugees from the former Yugoslavia, moved into an empty plot of land after the Second World War on a street inhabited by refugees from Eastern Europe. Surrounding the house were fields full of corn, lettuce and plums which the street's inhabitants picked for a living. In their gardens they grew fruit and vegetables to supplement their incomes. The family built a garage and lived there when their first child, my sister-in-law, was born, then built a house where the rest of the family including my wife grew up.
I first visited in Burlington in 1992, while living in Toronto. The fields had gone and in their place were used car lots, strip malls, railway tracks, chemical works, an Ontario Hydro plant and endless roads and parking lots. My wife's childhood home had become the wrong end of the tracks. We walked across town to my sister-in-law's house, which lay in the pleasant wood-lined roads near the lakeshore. It was 25 degrees and about 4pm on a Saturday afternoon. We saw 3 people who weren't in cars. I was flabbergasted at how easily people had lost their environment, how development, planning and an overwhelming attachment to the car had alienated people from and made them blind to their immediate surroundings - which is really what the Geography of Nowhere is all about.
So, as you do, I decided to photograph it and here are some of the results - One Mile From Home - pictures of the immediate area 1 mile from my wife's home in Burlington, Canada.