At the beginning of the scholastic semester in February, we were assigned a unit that came with a theme called Citizen of Nowhere. As always, it is up to each individual to interpret the theme as they wish, yet the notion of citizenship is inevitably laced with political undertone. Our lecturer explained, as you may have guessed, that the theme originated from Teresa May’s skepticism about world citizenship, claiming that those who believe themselves to be world citizens are citizens of nowhere.
This word ‘nowhere’ resonated within me, until I was reminded of an earlier project proposal I had worked on, titled The Strictly Human World (2016), in which I had put emphasis on public signs that untraditionally conveyed ambiguous information about where the reader was located. Perhaps the link is not clear without more of an overview about my previous project proposal, but it all made sense to me, and so I began brainstorming by deconstructing the word ‘nowhere’ with the idea that it must be a place on earth.
To my surprise, I found that Nowhere is actually a place in the United States of America, Oklahoma, located at the south-east end of Fort Cobb Reservoir. After finding that Nowhere can be located on a world map, I took to Google Maps to take a closer look at this piece of land and photographed it from my keyboard. This method of photographic a piece of land I have never stepped foot in has raised questions about what kind of photography it can classify as; although the digital photo has been taken through the very device that exposed it whilst the photographer was remote from the subject, there was an undeniable choice of framing – of, for example, one piece of land over another – how much zoom, and definitely an intention that drove a pair of hands to capture at the exact moment they did.
Whilst photographing this piece of land and being not quite ready to overcome the excitement of finding a place called Nowhere in the world, I kept thinking – in response to Teresa May’s statement – that those who believe they belong nowhere, belong somewhere after-all.