Behind Closeted Doors
I took pictures of 14 different closets, belonging to both men and women. The lowest age of an owner is 19, the highest age is 57, most were in their 20s. The purpose of this exercise was to display the least seen part of the most private room in the house, the bedroom closet.
In a way, the closet is where our perceptions of a person start; the way we dress is often the first thing people see. When an individual wakes up in the morning, they put on items that seem to change them. A naked person is harder to identify than you think; we recognize people by the way they dress. I hoped to show that a closet is a closet is a closet, and no matter how different we perceive people to be, the places they start their mornings are largely the same. Though they are individualized, these photos are extremely similar, almost all of them have a rack for hangers, a place for shoes, some sort of miscellaneous shelving. Most of them have dirty laundry. In fact, that was the biggest concern people had, “I’m sorry it’s so messy.” Oddly enough, I walked into houses that were disgusting, and rooms that were in disarray, but for some reason everyone was most concerned about the little hole in the corner of the room where they kept their cloths.
I chose not to include dormitories in piece, though I did photograph several dorm closets. Dorms are all essentially the same, with the same obvious organizational methods and very not individualized closets. Though many of the dorm photos were interesting, I wanted to find out what people did when they had free reign.
Gender has long influenced clothing choice. Though with men we see collared shirts and suits on hangers, and the women own dresses and shoes, the closets they reside in are all pretty neutral. It is not difficult however to guess which closet is masculine or feminine, even without looking closely. There is no singular way to tell, some women have many fewer cloths than men, some men have bright clothing. As individuals, we have drastically different styles, but for some reason, the gender of our closet is always obvious. That simple fact is why I chose to explore the medium. What makes it so easy to tell? In asked people, everyone correctly identified a gender for each photo, even with just a cursory glance. Though these photos look much the same, gender was still somehow conveyed. That mystery is extremely intriguing, what makes us gendered? Nothing, and everything. The strange truth of this project is that our identity, for better or worse, is in many ways attached to our closet. Maybe that’s why people were so concerned about it’s cleanliness.
Thanks for a great class!