Amazing Photos of Houses Show What Being at Home Means Around the World

Through the gaze of his camera, photographer Maurice Weiss reflects on the meanings and importance of houses and homes.

How are relations between houses, work and the self transforming under conditions of capitalism and modernity? Maurice Weiss, renowned political portray and documentary photographer (regular clients include Der Spiegel, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Amnesty Journal, and Die Zeit) lets us ponder this complex question in his new photographic work.

Weiss contributed a series of stunning photographs for the book To be at Home, which was written by a team of renowned historians and anthropologists to compare the ways people in different societies and historical periods strive to make and keep houses and homes under conditions of change, upheaval, displacement, impoverishment and violence.

Homes and Mobility: Houses and homes, whether real or imagined, play vital roles in helping stabilize the lives, relationships, and life-projects of people on the move. (Niger)
The routines of home – the everyday acts that make houses homes – do not collapse in contexts of transnational migration, severe economic impoverishment, or in the presence of violence. (Greece)
Houses, Work, and Everyday Life: Houses are often composite sites of work, production, and social and economic reproduction. Status, class, and culture are made and retained primarily through houses and homes. (Costa Rica)
They serve as historical objects, lenses, and figurative devices that narrate great stories of social transformation. (Chad)
Construction, Demolition, and Relocation: The lives of houses and the lives of people, particularly the poor, rarely seem to synchronize. (Niger)
The Power of Place: Space, Exclusions, and Vulnerability (Cuba)
Networks, Neighborhoods, and Communities: Housing systems and neighborhoods are often acknowledged as extensions of the working environment. (Germany)
Inhabitants may use their communities and neighborhoods as political spaces for organizing change against the dominant political order. (Ukraine)
Being at Home in the World: Houses and homes make memories and identities. (Germany)
“Being at home” is not a straightforward pursuit or even a guaranteed possibility for many individuals, families, and societies, but requires ongoing effort, skill, a commitment to open secrecy, hope despite futility, or spiritual practice. (Bikini Atoll)

“To collect photographs is to collect the world. (…) Photographed images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it, miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire.”

Susan Sontag

Maurice Weiss’s photography offers unconventional glimpses into visible and invisible lifeworlds and helps us rethink the concepts of house, work, and self in the modern world. His protagonists are on the margins, from forgotten spaces. They highlight relations between individuals and social structures, and help to identify aspects and details that remain disregarded in real life. His images take us through a multitude of realities and seem to craft what Susan Sontag calls “a collection of the world”.

[Title Image by Maurice Weiss, Algeria]

The Editors

Articles signed by the editors were written in a collective effort.

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