Tabriz, IRAN – In the course of uncertain times that are still going on, spaces have morphed into something beyond what they used to be.
The coronavirus confinement has affected every individual burdened with this historical moment and altered their perception of space and dwellings.
Sarah Barakat, 21, an architecture student at Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts in Lebanon, has launched a visual project that happens to be at the heart of these dynamic notions.
Where Are You Being Confined? is a repertoire of domestic spaces during the covid-19 quarantine period, displaying domestic environments seen in their utterly genuine forms, through images submitted by the inhabitants.
Barakat defines Where Are You Being Confined? as “a project that explores the complexity of human nature, how people live, and maybe a clash with intimacy.”
In the month since she has transformed her university project into Where Are You Being Confined?, it’s received mostly positive feedback, with the number of submissions exceeding 200. Contributions come from diverse backgrounds, from Lebanon to France, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Iraq, and Canada, among other places.
Barakat explained that the interactions between herself, the curator, and the participants often turn into a correspondence.
“I even have some instances where people really take the time to write to me and explain their situation and what they are going through.” she said. “It is not just a send and receive.”
The nature of these interactions has been accommodating, with a bizarre surprise along the way.
“I usually go on to ask them a few questions about an object, a piece of art, maybe even furniture I found in their homes. Sometimes the role is reversed, and I am asked questions about myself. Believe it or not, nobody was curious yet to find out where I am being confined!”
With our freedom limited within the walls of our space, the definition of home changes and grows.
According to Barakat, home becomes “a direct reflection of who one is, where one feels secured and safe and hide their secrets.” This new definition is so thorough that every individual will find a bit to relate.
Where Are You Being Confined? is not entirely concerned with aesthetics, although a scroll through the project’s Instagram feed will provide you with sights pleasing to the eye.
Barakat describes the voyeuristic aspect of her project as “playing with human nature – how we are so formatted into physical touch.”
“Of course, by scrolling down the page you become a voyeur yourself, by observing the spaces in which people live in. I would even go on to describe it as an obsession, especially in the times of a pandemic, to peek into the lives of others.”
The sense of escapism that her project renders for the audience is very much needed these days.
This quarantine period has given individuals enough time to ponder their dwellings, either unwittingly or otherwise.
How would this reflection on the surroundings touch the quarantined individual’s understanding of home?
“I think we are again, so formatted to a fast-paced way of living, and to suddenly be restricted in your own home naturally creates a mix of emotions,” Barakat said. “The space you have learned to love, or maybe even grew up in, can quickly become a space that you want to reject, maybe even detest. You can find a home anywhere. The notion of the home is not fixed, but fluid, and continues to flow with time. Physically and mentally.”
She hopes to eventually publish the assemblage of images she has gathered during the covid-19 pandemic. The print form will do justice to different aspects of her work.
Those who want to participate in Barakat’s project and share images of their own confinement space can reach her through her Instagram page @whereareyoubeingconfined.
Frida Zeinali is a Correspondent with Youth Journalism International.