17 Private Space: The Backyard Project : Rebekah Rocha

Private Space: The Backyard Project

Rebekah Schmidt Rocha
Private Spaces: The Backyard Project
As the gateway between public and private, the backyard is at once a playground, a
privilege, and an escape. In this series, I explore this veiled world, the banal and the
fantastic; the nature and artifice, documenting what happens there and archiving objects
I’ve found. Beyond the promised privacy and security from fences and hedges lies a
curious place of fantasy; where gardens, work sheds and secret paths reflect the desires
of their owners and exist in a state seemingly isolated from the outside world.
Like an archeologist, I am interested in the use of this personal space and the remains
left at these places. In my images, I explore what happens there. I ask how is the space
used, who is using it and how has it changed over time? Through photography and
collecting, I am looking for ways to record what I have discovered for others to
experience.
Collections of objects found in these backyards form the foundation of the dry plate
tintypes photograms. Resembling x-rays, they stand as reliquaries of sorts for the actual
objects; they are unique, precious and intimate. From found bones to plants, discarded
toys and tools, these images exist as shadows of items left behind or generated in the
backyard. Immediate and direct, the tintypes themselves become objects, the metal
plates continue as more permanent icons of a forgotten treasure destined to decay
over time.
Typically found in suburban areas, the backyard is a specific domestic space. Within this
private space lies a microcosm of activity. From family barbecues and children’s
playgrounds to adult escapes and urban gardening, the backyard offers a gateway to
experience and enjoy nature away from the public eye. Within them, nearly anything
goes. From a large, wild oasis to the tiniest of urban plots, it is not size that matters, but
purpose, as the backyard exists as a mirror of the inhabitants that have called it home.