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American Bedroom by Barbara Peacock

Posted on April 07, 2024 - By Kehrer Verlag
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American Bedroom by Barbara Peacock
American Bedroom by Barbara Peacock

''Barbara Peacock’s American Bedroom photographs are a testimony to emotional innocence playing footsie with the devil. With a subject matter such as this, one could almost instantly go toward lurid, voyeuristic admonitions; she does not. … What is it within her that so magnetizes her subjects in the bed in front of her, that she as an imposing presence, ‘the photographer’, no longer exists'' -- Larry Fink, photographer

''I believe the bedroom is not just a private place, but a sacred place. We build it as a shrine to our lives (even if houseless) and spend nearly one third of our lives in it. It exemplifies our being; it is a place to rest, to love, to comfort, to be, to give life, to restore, to recover, to grieve, to lay sick and to die. The one thing I know for certain is that all lives are important, and everyone has a story to tell.'' —Barbara Peacock

For seven years, American photographer Barbara Peacock crisscrossed the United States photographing people in the spaces they defined as their bedrooms. The bedroom is an inherently personal space where humans are perhaps at their most vulnerable. Whether a room in a house, a camper, or an outdoor space, Peacock presents a body of work that invites the viewer to consider the stories we each carry, and how those unify us all.

Peacock's time on the road allowed her to create an expansive set of images that show regardless of geography, people are people, working to survive, and trying to live meaningful lives. American culture is increasingly divisive politically and ideologically, and Peacock notes in her essay for the book that when the physical doors opened, those barriers and divisions were ''mysteriously and magically lifted.'' She continues, ''What appeared was the bare soul of a human life, with a story, and a purity of heart that rose like cream to the top.''

Contributing to the humanistic element prominent throughout this project, quotes from each subject accompany the individual photographs on facing pages and add further nuanced context to the definitions in the faces, their story, physical environment, and personal belongings.


Barbara Peacock

© Barbara Peacock

“Sometimes life throws you in all sorts of directions, the most important part about life is to remember you are exactly where you need to be.” Jessica, 18. Milford, New Hampshire.


Barbara Peacock

© Barbara Peacock

“Finding love late in life has taught me many lessons, including not to be shy or embarrassed by my body. It is freeing to say I am big, bold and beautiful. Laverne, 72, and James, 74 Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

That Peacock incorporates the voices of the people she photographs is a testament to the partnership and respect that resonates throughout the project. The quotes often provide insight into the inner landscapes of the individuals and reveal vulnerabilities, hopes, and dreams along with bits and pieces of their own unique lives and idiosyncracies.

The book is divided into five sections, each with its own title page, specific color, and phrase such as ''Woken by Dogs,'' and ''Close to the Bone,'' contributing to the symbolic and metaphorical layering within the images, and the project as a whole.

The people photographed range in age from small children to a 97 year old woman from Kansas City. The quotes combine with the items included within the photograph–the objects on the walls or bedside table, the interior or exterior space details–all interacting as harbors of memories that build the stories of people's lives.

In her essay for the book, Peacock also notes how the connecting elements of human nature and the shared experiences of things like, ''Loneliness, loss, sorrow, regret, disappointment, re-awakening, self-awareness, wisdom, acceptance, contentment, and happiness,'' surpassed the differences presented in geographic location or physical circumstances unique to each person. Peacock observes how the project's meanings and implications transitioned from originating as a project ''simply about taking photographs of people'' to a project ''about our likenesses, our loves, our dreams, and all the threads of commonality that connect us as human beings.''


Barbara Peacock

© Barbara Peacock

“I really want better for my kids. Right now, we all live in one room. We’re trying to get a house and a car before the snow comes. When we get it together, we will get married. I dream of becoming a nurse.” Chevy, 27. The Lafayette Family Detroit, Michigan.


Barbara Peacock

© Barbara Peacock

“Love is accrescent. If you choose to love, there is no end to how big and all-encompassing it can grow. We chose to love each other daily and will keep choosing to love as we push on into the future. Micah, 35, and Kody, 40. Omaha, Nebraska.

Barbara Peacock
Barbara Peacock is a photographer and director living in Portland, Maine. Since having started American Bedroom in 2016, she has won the Getty Editorial Grant, the Women Photograph/Getty Grant, three LensCulture Awards, four Top 50 Critical Mass Awards, and was named one of the Top 100 Photographers in America 2020.
www.americanbedroomseries.com
@barbara.peacock_abedroom

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