The Quotidian

An unfinished ode to the subtleties that make me feel at home.

It was 2003 and I still didn’t have a digital camera. I was taking the foundation year for filmmaking at public University in Buenos Aires. The foundation year was common to many programmes, mixing various types of students together. Aspiring architects, filmmakers, fashion designers, landscape designers and industrial designers all had to go through the same extremely demanding foundation courses that often fell too far away from our interests and the actual professional practices of our intended field. Facing an entire year of non camera related assignments felt backwards to me, so I enrolled in a private, after-hours visual storytelling workshop and started working on a small personal project that life (or more precisely, death) would make impossible for me to finish.

Ode to Warmth

Comfort, cozyness, ease, relief, the invitation to rest, the certainty of being loved, of having a place on Earth… These were the subjects of my first self-directed photographic quest. For the project, I nested them all under the concept of ‘lo cotidiano’, or ‘the quotidian’. The goal of the workshop was to come up with a series of related images that we would organise sequentially, creating a visual narration. I don’t remember exactly how I came up with the idea but, in hindsight, the timing turned out to be eerily adequate. I was definitely stressed by this whole new phase in my life, University, and I became aware of just how important the warm feelings of coming back home were to me. I felt that without those positive, reaffirming feelings, there would have been no chance of simmering all the new information, pressure and expectations of the outside world into some sort of digestible experience. Little did I know that what was actually simmering was a much deeper personal transition involving losses unimagined by the filmmaker wanna-be that was tiptoeing into the world.

First 2 rows were the earliest images created for the project. They were shot in film on my first ever camera – the inherited Minolta SRT 101

One of the latest images that fit this series: A window in the borrowed house that served as my shelter during the unexpected lockdown in Buenos Aires in 2020

Home at Loss

My Mom died within 6 months of her diagnose. There had been no symptoms, no heads up… turns out it was a silent, sneaky type of cancer. Her death meant moving out of the only house I had ever lived in, emptying it, getting rid of objects and corners that had been taken for granted and were meant to be there for decades to come. It meant the crumbling of the very warmth I had only begun to try and capture. My quotidian project got interrupted as much as my very quotidian did but, nonetheless, something about the way I had begun to look at it stayed with me for the years to come. Turned out to be handy because, since then, I’ve had to learn to find those warm accepting feelings in fleeting circumstances and temporary spaces. I’ve come to slowly identify the type of light and texture that create a cozy and secure atmosphere in which learnings continue to simmer into digestible experiences. The paradox is that through losing my first sense of home a little too early, a little too suddenly; I was gifted the ability to feel at home in impermanence. And this – as a nomad – is as much a blessing as quite a pre requisite.

Work in progress

For all these years, the curiosity about the elements that make me feel safe and warm inside remained an underlying element to all of my expressive endeavours. I never forgot the questions and findings of my unfinished project aiming to grasp and pin down the quotidian. Sure enough, my quotidians have changed hundreds of times since 2003, and yet, the elements surrounding those precious moments of security and sense of belonging seem to repeat themselves throughout the years, routines, houses, people and countries that I navigate. I no longer expect to finish this project but I am finally ready to share what feeling at home feels – and looks – like for me.

This is me right around the time I started working on the quotidian project. Self portraits were part of my tests in the early days. What’s interesting about this image is that it was taken in the same kitchen and at the same table as the photo of my mom that is to me, the hero image of this series.