El Living is Chilean spanglish for living room — the space dedicated to relaxation and often used as a gallery of family portraits, souvenirs and other traces of life. After the military coup in Chile and subsequently arriving in Canada many Chilean exiles kept their suitcases packed ready to head back south the moment democracy was reinstated. That moment came 25 years later.
Thus a connection was discovered between emptied suitcases and the filled living rooms of this community. This large-format photographic series pairs portraits of first generation Chilean exiles at home and close-up photographs of vacant 70s-era suitcases.
On a level it is a photographic exploration of the links between designed intimacy in mass-produced products and the organic design of people’s living spaces. On a deeper level the images reflect the connection between immigrants that have come to rest, no longer feeling the pull of traveling between places, and the vacant suitcases that were once full and ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
This series was featured as an interview on CBC Radio 1 and as an online photo feature on CBC Radio 3. I have also been awarded an Ontario Art Council Grant for Exhibition Assistance to show a selection of the series at Gallery 44 in Toronto.