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2018 Annual Conference

Philadelphia

March 01-04, 2018

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2018 SPE Annual Conference: Uncertain Times: Borders, Refuge, Community, Nationhood / Hosted by The University of the Arts

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Tomiko Jones

SPE Member since 2007
Member Chapter: West

A Place to Rest

After graduating with my MFA, I spent four months in residence at Musée Niépce in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, one of the sites known in the invention of photography. During my time abroad, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States and hope was in the air, in particular around resolution of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. From France I traveled to Amman, Jordan to co-produce a documentary with Sama Alshaibi for Direct Aid Iraq, a peace-building mission between Iraqis and Americans to aid displaced civilians as the result of the war.

Friends began to ask me, "Where are you? It's hard to keep track of you." When I could get internet access, I would scroll Facebook and see countless pictures of meals that people were about to eat. Witnessing refugees search for home and stability under dire circumstances, where meals were not a given, ignited something in me. I was not blaming my friends; at the same time I thought, I will take a picture of where I slept tonight, for I am lucky to have such a place. As a joke, or perhaps a challenge, I shot on film, not with the digital camera. Back in the United States, I embarked on a post-graduation mobile lifestyle of residencies, academic migration, and nomadic movement associated with searching for work while following creative pursuits. I continued to photograph every bed I slept in with my Rolleiflex, as a way to slow down and consider where I was–friends' places, catsitting gigs, conference rooms, hotels for interviews, my parent's house, a rest stop in the middle of Kansas. I didn't have hard rules, except that I only photographed a place once, even if I returned multiple times, or stayed many nights. The everyday is a well-explored genre in the photographic field, yet it is still irresistible as a way to mark place and time. The archive has over 200 beds and is growing.

A Place to Rest (1)

A Place to Rest (2)

A Place to Rest (3))

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