Alison A. Smith

alisona_smith02Wall of Photographs, Athens, GA
Archival Pigment Print

Carbondale, IL

Artist Statement
A generation ago, home was a rock that grounded a family to its environment, its community and to each other, and the home often reflected the personality of the people who occupied it. Today, society’s approach to home ownership has changed to reflect a more transient mode of living. Despite this shift the suburban housing mode continues to remain predominately geared toward the nuclear family.

I am interested in how people use, live in and sell their homes. This is especially meaningful as houses are increasingly being built and maintained to accommodate an American lifestyle in the early 21st Century that seems for many to be moving and constantly changing. In my pursuit, I find irregularities and disorder amongst what appears to be common, orderly and often homogenous suburban housing developments. Subtleties also abound. For example, the way in which a person plants hedges to mark their half of the property line – or the security system and signage they choose to install – speak of a lifestyle that is concerned with privacy, ownership and safety issues.

The images in the “Transitional Occupancy” series are all photographed in homes for sale or model homes. The homes are in various stages of occupancy – empty, awaiting an owner, “staged” to attract a buyer, only partially lived in, or spaces converted to serve a different function than the intended or original use. Commercially, the home must be shown and staged to look homey but remain generic – for a potential buyer to imagine his or her life-belongs in the home. I bring to light the odd rituals that take place when trying to sell a home – the constant vacuuming, dusting, careful arranging of books and other knick-knacks. The process is all made to look effortless as experienced in the stillness and near perfection captured in the photographs.