In one of my classes recently my teacher jokingly asked for me to reveal a secret about myself in my introduction to the class.
So I did. It’s not so much a secret as it is just a quirky fact about myself.
I have a thing for laundry. Recently I realized that it is a recurring image in my photography works, and it is something that in real life just draws my eye. Let me specify, I’m talking about clean laundry, and specifically when it’s hanging out to dry.
So what does that mean? My little laundry fetish must come from some sort of inner association that I make with it. I’m only speculating here, but I think it has something to do with the universality of laundry.
Everyone does laundry. No matter where you live, what conditions you live in, who does it or how they do it, laundry gets washed everywhere. It’s a tradition, or simple action that transcends social boundaries, as well as culture and space. Way to go, laundry!
There’s also something intriguing about the idea of hanging your laundry outside for all to see. There’s a house in the very center of the village my Mom lives in in the south of France, and it belongs to an old, slightly overweight woman, who likes to sit on a plastic chair in her yard. Her laundry hangs right by the main roundabout of the village. Everyone in the village probably goes by this roundabout on a daily basis. And everyone in the village has seen her large, flowered panties hanging outside.
I have been trying to photograph her laundry for years, but it seems like she sits out there, scowling, ready to reprimand me every time I try. Whenever I have walked past with my camera or phone ready to go, her rather intimidating gaze has made me resist the urge to snap a photo anyway.
In Vancouver, it is the very definition of a sunny day in the suburbs and residential parts of the city. We so rarely get sun here that when we do everyone hangs their laundry in their backyards. Little do they know that there is a sneaky young woman with a camera walking through the back alleys, ready to turn their most private garments into art works.
I’m including in this post a digitally composed collage of photos taken from my sister’s balcony in Maputo, Mozambique. All of them include laundry, though it is more apparent in some than in others. Architecturally, buildings there often have balconies, which, more often than not, are simply used to hang out laundry. And when you think about it, in any city, the use of a balcony can be used to determine the conditions in which the residents live. But that’s a different blog post topic.
I invite you to take a tour of my Digital and Analog galleries, in which you will find evidence of this phenomenon. And next time you hang your laundry outside, watch out for creepy photographers.
Now you all know my secret.