Journey Around Your Room is a 4-part digital workshop series delivered in partnership with the Justice Arts & Migration Network and inspired by Xavier de Maistre’s documentation of his house arrest. Photographer Matt Snellin will help you to explore ‘your room’ in lockdown, through the medium of photography.
We have been told to stay at home. But in this moment we acknowledge that not everyone is safe within their four walls. And not everyone has four walls. The upending of lifestyles, careers and family structures, followed by indeterminate spans of incarceration, indefinite detention and quarantine are commonplace in the life-stories of refugees, asylum seekers, and detainees.
Xavier de Maistre (1763-1852) wrote Voyage Autour de ma Chambre or Voyage Around My Room while under 42 days house arrest in 1790. He was a refugee of sorts, having fled to St Petersburg when the French occupied Saxony. His travelogue of the 42-day journey is precise, observant, often funny and occasionally sad. He starts with detail – his room ‘lies east and west, and […] forms a parallelogram of thirty six steps round’ and soon becomes more adventurous, … ‘I shall traverse my room up and down and across […] I shall even zig-zag about, following, if needs be, every possible geometrical line’.
And so, off he goes, on his journey. His incarceration is not without its comforts. He has his dog, books and pictures, and he even a manservant who delivers his meals. He has a window and marvels at the light on his bed and the dancing patterns of the elm trees. Inspired by this account, Matt has developed this series of workshops each helping you to document the quirks and nuances of your own room and domestic surroundings.