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French photographer John Thackwray launched ‘My Room’ which offers a privileged insight into the intimate worlds of an entire generation.
The idea behind ‘My Room’, launched in February 2010, was simple: he would photograph people in their bedrooms all over the world, from an overhead perspective. Only people born in the 1980′s would qualify.
When asked what he hoped to achieve, John says: “Bedrooms represent intimacy – they’re a mirror of our world.”
What began as a local project involving friends soon expanded overseas when interest grew. To find his subjects, John advertised all around the world through social networking sites such as Facebook and Couchsurfing. In the end, he travelled through 18 European countries and eventually on to Asia and America.
Since the launch, John has now photographed 492 people from 26 countries as far afield as Nepal, the United States, Italy and Japan.
He decided on an overhead camera angle - the technique for which remains “top secret” – because it results in a broader picture. “It allows you to portray the person and their relationship with their possessions in the finest detail,” says John.
Though he mostly relied on the internet to find participants, as well as friends’ contacts, he also did what he calls “street-asking.” Despite often not being able to speak the language of the country he was visiting, he found no shortage of volunteers to act as interpreters.
yoko in her bedroom in Tokyo, Japan.
Just a few hours before his flight back from Japan, John met Ryoko (pictured above) on a street in Tokyo, who invited him back to her bedroom (strictly for artistic purposes.) “I was looking for the Lolita of the project,” says John. “She was very funny and open-minded.”
Though he always travelled alone, he never encountered any problems and found people hospitable in all of the countries he visited, often even staying with the people that he photographed.
In Asia, he stayed with people who had no electricity, let alone any of the possessions you would expect to find in a bedroom. “People aren’t necessarily unhappy just because they don’t own anything,” says John. “In fact, the people who had nothing were more welcoming than those who had a lot.”
Despite the incredible range of people and objects that he photographed, he has always refused to analyse what the pictures show. “The photos speak for themselves,” he insists. “The world changes so quickly that they’ll make more sense as time goes on. Many things appear, but lots of things also disappear.”
However, he was surprised sometimes at the uniformity of many of the bedrooms. “With internet and the ease of travelling, it becomes increasingly difficult to find people with alternative ways of life - because, ultimately, all the rooms look the same,” he says. “More and more people are living in comfort and losing their traditions. I think that the scope of traditional life has disappeared in 90 per cent of the world. Everyone wears a t-shirt and jeans, and increasingly people are choosing to live in cities.”