First in a series putting Words to images.

Birthroom-1990

This is a photograph I saw as part of a small exhibition called The Space I Feel at this year’s Savignano Immagini Festival.

Superficially, the image is not so fascinating yet the sense of balance indicates it is not a random shot.

Some care has gone into the composition but why was it taken?

It is plainly not the kind of picture an estate agent would use; not only is it in black and white but also it gives no clue as to how big the room is or how the space could be used.

Through one window we can trees; the other side suggests a garden but the bright light makes the view unclear.

As the room is empty, you imagine it is either ready to move into or that someone has just moved out. This could signify expectancy or perhaps something lost. Moving house is not necessarily a negative thing but can be stressful.

Was there once a carpet or are the bare floorboards a feature of this home?

In the shadows you make out the shape of a pair of radiators, comfort in contrast to the starkness.

After studying the picture for a few minutes, I read the title : Birthroom by Machiel Botman 1990.

The dutch photograph explains why he took the shot:“After my mother died we took three months to empty her house. Five minutes before closing the door for the last time, I walked through the house in tears, and photographed each room”.

The picture shows the room where he was born and is where he last saw his mother alive.

Of course, knowing this forces you to see the picture in a specific way. The finality of death makes you think of pain and sadness.

Yet, this is also a room where a new life began.

With every ending there is a beginning – a fresh perspective; a recognition that things have changed irrevocably but in this space there are also fond memories. Why else would Botman have taken the picture?

You don’t photograph things that you want to forget.

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