Júlio de Matos Photography

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SENSE OF A PLACE (1980)


SENSE OF A PLACE

If it was today I would not know how to find this place. But in 1980, it was Judy, a friend, that told me the first time about it. I was looking for a place genuinely American and with a lot character. And she knew a real estate seller that was just trying to sell one of a such places, with little success.

Later she drove me there, and I was left completely at easy to photograph and wonder around inside that historic house. I believe I worked there about two or three spring time afternoon hours. First I photographed the ground floor, the entrance and the living rooms. The square image format of a Roleiflex, the lens diffusion, and the light inside the house conveyed an intriguing surreal atmosphere charged with the mystery of a deserted house. I remember also to use also a tripod, and inside the camera a Kodak Vericolor II 120 film. Then I found the stairs leading to the first floor. Going up, I stop hearing the two women voice on the outside, and slowly a sense of insecurity appeared. First I photographed the corridor. Then a discreet and closed white door revealed it's presence to me. Every other door in the house was wide open. When I opened the door to go inside to capture it's atmosphere. I could not pass the threshold of the door. I felt a, never before or after experienced by me, sense of panic. The light was not abundant. Only through the door and a very small window, near the ceiling, the light was illuminating this room. But I wanted to do this photograph. So I put the tripod touching the door panel, and manually adjusted the focus. Then I opened the door for a brief moment to make a light reading. Finally for the third time I opened the door, pressed the shutter and closed the door immediately. Seconds later I was outside the house. On the way back to Rochester I shared my strange experience.

The images after development and printing came as expected, and I was ready to forget this episode. Then I learned that on that beautiful old house, about one hundred years ago used lo live a black couple with there three children. One night they went to a party and left their kids at home, inside that room with the door closed by the out side. Then a fire broke inside the house, and the children burned inside that room. When they returned from the party and the fire man arrived it was too late. Only the stone walls resisted the fire, and survived till today.

Júlio de Matos
January, 5th 2009


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