Manufacturing Home explores my definitions of “home” and that of the multi-billion dollar housing industry selling the idea back to us. This project began with the idea of documenting the process of building homes in assembly-line factories. Is a home a product like an automobile? Can you mass-produce a sense of home? By focusing on brand new, factory-built mobile homes that had never been lived in, I could observe and comment on the strategies employed by manufacturers to make them feel homey and appealing to buyers. I found it very interesting, for instance, that someone thought a picture of a shipwreck on a prop TV, or a rifle next to the bed, might help sell a home. When I photograph these spaces I am also asking, “Which room is mine?”
A mobile home is an oxymoron promising stability and security combined with the freedom of mobility and renewal. They are built right onto semi-truck chassis, and their capacity to be driven away at any moment suggests a lack of commitment, a sense that you haven't come to stay. As I was growing up, my family moved a lot. We lived in mobile homes, one of which we trucked from upstate New York to South Carolina and then back again. My father recalls the unsettling experience of seeing our home drive by us on the highway.
I identify with the random objects in these pictures, they are trying hard to make the empty rooms feel lived in and familiar. In photographing these display homes, I found metaphors for family dynamics, both humorous and dysfunctional. I also found optimism and aspiration on display. The people in my photographs are customers and salespeople, people who were wandering around inside like I was, trying on the place for size. When I photograph these spaces I am also asking, “Which room is mine?”
- Amy Eckert