Photographer Foster Huntington uses photography as a medium of communication to unite people of all different places, cultures, and backgrounds under the premise of a single question. His project 1istmirwichtig developed from a blog, into a book, into a trip around Germany in his VW van, in which he always asks the same question: “If your house was burning, what would you take with you?” Such a question immediately poses matters of practicality, conflicts of value, and priorities.
As reflections of the interests, backgrounds, and priorities of respondents, the photos of these items present an interesting twist to the world of social media, of posting endless information and images of or about oneself. The result is a collection of oddly poignant photos in which all that one would “save” is arranged into a single frame.
When such a question is posed, materialism and dependence naturally come into play. Take the absurdity of saving a tube of Chanel lipstick if your house were actually burning. Doubtful. Perhaps instead, this is not a matter of dependency, but instead an attempted display of personality, of how objects can be wordless descriptions of oneself. This awareness lends the photos a slight hint of dishonesty. Sometimes there seems to be a greater attentiveness toward composition, aesthetic pleasure, and balance in shape and color over the actual significance of the objects. The objects are most often arranged on the floor, the photo taken from above. But some are stacked up against a wall or window, giving a greater glimpse into the personal life of the participant. It’s not an issue of the answer but the opportunity presented for someone to explain themselves through objects. Like other information we give freely, whether in person or over the Internet, these images pose an aesthetic arrangement of distinct (rather biased) insights into a life.
Click below to find out more about Foster Huntington and 1istmirwichtig Project here: 1istmirwichtig website
Blog entry by in Berlin; Sunday, May 19, 2013.