What can you learn about person from seeing their bedroom?
There are all kinds of theories about how things like color and clutter can impart everything from romantic viability to mental health and so much more. But suffice to say: Those private places where we rest our heads can sure reveal a lot .
Perhaps a better topic is: What can you learn about people in general from seeing plenties and plenties and plenties of bedrooms ?
That's what French photographer John Thackwray wanted to know.
As part of that vaguely-defined group of ‘8 0s and ‘9 0s babies known as “millennials, ” Thackwray insured firsthand how technology was changing the world at increasingly rapid rates and began to wonder about the impact that was having on his generation in all regions of the world. What was the relationship between internet connectivity and inequality and things like education, women's rights, and poverty?
What better way to be determined than to look at people's bedrooms?
Over a period of six years, Thackwray photographed and interviewed more than 1,200 young people in their bedrooms( or other sleeping spaces) in 55 different countries.
Like him, they were all millennials. Thackwray found his subjects with the help of friends, social media, and local NGOs although he did occasionally ask random people on the street if he could photograph their bedrooms, which was just as awkward, and as dangerous, as one could imagine.
But it also helped him learn a lot along the way.
“Each person has their own narrative and they can talk about something that is wider and more universal . […] such as living into the war, adoptions, the traditional values, the rural exodus, or the African unity for example. Im trying to do a big narrative in a small one , ” he explained. Take a look at some of Thackwray's personal favourites and watch for yourself what kinds of patterns or other surprising things you notice .
1. Room # 24: Joseph, 30, an artist in Paris
2. Room # 192: Andreea, 24, a civil technologist in Bucharest, Romania
3. Room # 205: Gull, 29, an actress in Istanbul, Turkey
4. Room # 219: Maleeq, 28, an entertainer in New York City
5. Room # 256: Ryoko, 25, an IT engineer in Tokyo
6. Room # 290: Yuan, 22, a dealer in Dali, China
7. Room # 313: Fha, 20, a farmer in Ban Sai Ngam, Thailand
8. Room # 348: Asha, 17, a housewife in Bamansemilya, India
9. Room # 385: Pema, 22, a Buddhism student in Kathmandu, Nepal
10. Room # 416: Oleg, 24, a telecom technologist in Novosibirsk, Russia
11. Room # 458: Zhalay, 18, a high school student in Zhambyl, Kazakhstan
12. Room # 466: lah, 29, a painter in Tehran, Iran
13. Room # 561: Ben, 22, a movie student in Dallas
14. Room # 665: Marcello, 18, a high school student in La Paz, Bolivia
15. Room # 711: Claudio, 24, an archivist in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
16. Room # 733: Fatou, 17, a seamstress in This, Senegal
17. Room # 807: Mohamad, 18, a high school student in Saint Catherine, Egypt
18. Room # 867: Ezekiel, 22, a warrior-nomad in Echo Manyata, Kenya
19. Room # 915: Josee, 22, an accounting student in Kigali, Rwanda
20. Room # 1049: Osia, 18, a shepherd in Ha Selomo, Lesotho
21. Room # 1093: Sabrina, 27, a kindergarten teacher in Shatila, Lebanon
These photos are all clearly similar in their bird's eye views of smiling subjects. But they have more in common than one might notice at first glance.
“Most of them share an access to Internet and social network, including Saudi young women and farmers in the African shrub. This is definitely the connected generation, ” Thackwray told. “And something important is maintaining my mind is that this is the youth who is designing the world of tomorrow.”
They also all have items of personal significance that they keep close to them which perhaps isn't surprising, but is still a moving reminder that we all fall into the same habits, and try those small moments of happiness in astonishingly similar ways.
“Many people confound convenience and happiness, ” Thackwray told. “Actually I've watch more smiles in poor countries, and much more depression in developed countries.”
The private places where people sleep reveal a great deal about us as individuals. But viewed together, they make a powerful statement about how we all try solace and composure, despite our differences in race, religion, gender, career, income, and experience.
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