so one day we walked through the forest around the bay to see what we could find. getting to the front door of the cottage was a roundabout obstacle course that involved dodging poison ivy and running beneath a rotting deck. there was a thrilling sense of fear and excitement - for it seemed the deck - and in fact the whole cottage itself - could come crashing down at any moment. we would pry open the screen door and step quietly inside the kitchen - listening attentively for ambitious raccoons. the walls were scratched, the ceiling ripped apart and belongings scattered everywhere. had it been night time, it would have had all the makings of a horror movie. but perhaps the most perturbing detail was the tea set on the kitchen table. arranged in such a way that it seemed the owners had been enjoying a nice cuppa, in the midst of which they were suddenly called away.
the front room, nearest to the deck, was off limits (a sincere word of warning from our parents). we had schemes that involved tying a rope around one or the other and sending them into this forbidden area - but they never came to fruition. the bedrooms were filled with endless mid century treasures. furniture from the eighties, colourful sundresses from the seventies and puzzling papers of shorthand from the sixties (i sat for hours back in my own room, trying to work out those penciled hieroglyphics). and it was here that i found the naughtiest surprise of all, a book entitled "the happy hooker," a force of non-fiction that encouraged me to mentally mature well before my time.
i was reminded of that place this week, when i came across photographs by birthe piontek. originating in germany, but currently settled in vancouver, canada, piontek takes us on an exploration of the individual. the photos show no people, but the inhabitants seem to be there all the same - personified in the form of a forgotten locket, bedraggled linens, cracked china and broken birdhouses.