These images are part of an ethnographic project looking at the transformation of spaces from personal sanctuaries to work places. The participants were young homosexual men, confronting and conforming to mandates of various “normativities”. Being non-British, they perceived and performed domesticity by trying to sustain elements of their original cultures and juxtaposing conditions between their hometowns and London, a city with a reputation for overpriced and restricting housing. Finally, by receiving clients in their places for massage treatments and/or sex, they were constantly negotiating their safety, their privacy and their authority over what people are used to call “home”.
The discussion around private and public space finds a new line of argument in this photographic work, since it compels the viewer to reconsider the criteria for such distinction. This aspect was persistently under consideration at all stages of the photographic involvement; framing, shooting, selecting, editing, printing, showing. However, that was solely on the part of the photographer. The manner of the participants, or hosts, strongly suggested they had nothing to hide and in this way the researcher, or guest, converted from intruder to friend naturally and in a flash (of the camera).
At the same time, the project wishes to remind the viewer of important facets of what we call “urban life” and, by focusing on personal objects or decorative elements, it builds spatio-temporal and symbolic bridges between the outside and the inside, the bedroom and the street, the present and the past, London and other locations. The city is as much at train stations, office buildings, or markets as it is in cupboards, under beds and on bathroom tiles.
Yanni Eleftherakos studied Photography and Urban Cultures at Goldsmiths, where he is now pursuing his PhD in Visual Sociology. He gives workshops on photography and designs urban photographic walks. Always working in and with cities, he is particularly interested in the connections between place and class, as well as the ‘genius loci’ and urban identities. He mostly creates and shows work in London and Athens. He has worked with The National Citizen Service mentoring young people on community issues and is has been the programme coordinator of UrbanPhotoFest in London since 2012.