Thursday, December 18, 2008

Project #4: Utopia

Back in the day, meaning back when I used to live in Kentucky, Thanksgiving was spent with my immediate family and my dad's friends from Oberlin, who had all graduated in the 70s and then moved to Kentucky. I haven't been back at that sort of Thanksgiving since before I moved five years ago, and as much as we try to replicate that sort of family-friend party atmosphere in Hawaii, we never really hit it right. Maybe it's the fact that it's warm.

This Thanksgiving, I went to a very Oberlin household: my friend Jamie and his sister Anna are third-generation Obies; Anna is the 8th in the family to attend. Jamie invited another friend and me; Anna invited her roommate and two of her closest friends. All in all, we were nine Obies, with all four current classes represented and the parents, classes of 1979 and 1980. I thought my Thanksgiving of my former home would be replicated, and I was looking forward to it.

As the time approached, though, I realized that I couldn't fully replicate my past memories. So I started shifting my project to two different views of Thanksgiving traditions. I collaborated with my brother, asking him to photograph Thanksgiving however my family was choosing to celebrate in Hawaii while I did the same in Pittsburgh.

My brother and I, though cut from similar cloth, had an entirely different take on the situations. Since my brother is with my family all the time, he took pictures of food and the processes, in an intimate and familiar way; there were only three shots with recognizable people in them. Now, I miss them very much, and though I love food, I love them more and secretly, I really wanted to see photographs of my family more than I wanted to see photos of the food. I was very grateful to the Albrecht family for sharing their Thanksgiving with their children's friends, so I focused more on the people involved with my Thanksgiving weekend, as we cooked together, studyed together, and enjoyed being at home rather than at school. It does show a more demonstrative aspect of Thanksgiving, but granted, I am nowhere near as close with this family as with my own.

My brother's photos and my photos are mixed up in this album, side by side. Even though we're in different places with different people, we took some almost identical photos. This is a project about perspective and desire, families and things we are thankful for.

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