Varese Layzer

Making Room
In Making Room, as in Households and Iron Mountain I show the urban homestead and invite a questioning of ownership: how may we be known through how we live? I also examine aspects of American middle-class life that remain unchanged over a century and the greater force exerted by the past over the present and the future. How are we defined and confined by what we keep? I am interested in uninhabited spaces as they prompt the imagination: who was here before?

The story behind Making Room follows.

In 2010, my mother died. As the last living member of my family, it fell to me to clear out the cluttered 1,200-square-foot rent-controlled apartment where I grew up and my parents had lived for 40 years. The process would take three months. During that time of work and grief, I also had to live there. I documented the process of making room for me at 5E.

After giving away thousands of pounds of belongings, I moved the remaining 4,000 pounds to a San Francisco storage space. Slowly, I made room to bring those objects into my world here: a painting, a clock, a lamp. I documented that process too.

Apartment 5E has since been bought and its walls demolished by a new owner. The objects and these pictures are all that remains.