Happy Inside, 2010-2012
As a photographer I am not necessarily interested in staging reality so to speak — instead, what I am interested in is someone else’s idea of a staged reality. This very thought brought me to the highly constructed rooms that are meant to replicate the consumers “ideal home” in IKEA. Everything within the space is meticulously planned, and items are intentionally placed to create a certain effect. This simulation of the home not only sells the product, but more importantly, lends itself to the idea of selling a possible life. The rooms in IKEA are built for the sole purpose of interaction; what I am interested in photographically are these interactions.
As part of one of their most recent campaigns, IKEA conducted an experiment titled Herding Cats where they released one hundred cats loose overnight in their Wembley location. Cats live their lives in the pursuit of comfort, so this experiment was to see how exactly the cats reacted once they were released in the constructed environments. What did the cats do? They climbed on sofas, pranced throughout the rooms, slept on beds — treating the space as if it were indeed their own home.
In this day and age, similar to these cats, we too actively live our lives in the pursuit of comfort in any given situation. This possible life that I had mentioned — it’s sleek, it’s desirable, it is an aesthetic all on its own — needless to say, we are drawn to it. This shell of a room has the power of giving you a very real sense of privacy in a very public setting. So, we act just as these cats do: We treat the space as if it were our own.
The photographs have a way of coercing the viewer into believing they are an accurate portrayal of domesticity. There is a certain degree of empathy involved, nostalgia even. It’s as if you have have seen these photographs before, or perhaps been the person in the photograph. Yet despite this familiarity, the subject is unaware. These situations are not set up, planned, or preconceived. They are illusions of reality captured through the showroom of IKEA.