Monday, 3:12pm
15 March 2010

Comfort zone

christine donnier-valentin
Photography
Visual Culture

Do these pictures of abandoned sofas bring calm to urban chaos?

I started photographing abandoned sofas a few years ago, writes Christine Donnier-Valentin. The sofa is an object of comfort in a home, filled with memories of conversations, laughter, tears, play, books, food. And then it is discarded, taken outside and left next to the bins.

The Highway by Denis

Sofa Glamis Rd by me

I’m interested in the way they occupy the street spatially, face-down or lying sideways. Often the aesthetic style of the sofa matches the architecture it used to be housed in. I don’t touch or re-arrange them, and I wait until there’s no-one in the frame. Somehow they bring a certain calm to the chaos of the urban environment.

I ask everybody I meet to contact me if they spot a sofa in the street. I write the day, time, location and - most importantly - who recommended it to me. It has become a networking connection. Friends and colleagues based in London and abroad send me pictures of sofas taken on their mobile. I call them my ‘sofa spies’.

Austral st by Marcus

glamisroad by me

The youngest spy is Alan, 7 years old, who watched me during a session. He was first interested in my Rolleiflex, but then looked at my subject. He asked about it so I spent five minutes explaining the project, and then he asked again: ‘yes but why do you take photos of rubbish sofas?’ ‘Because it makes me happy.’ To that answer, he replied: ‘if it makes you happy, I’ll take you to one.’ I followed him to a council estate courtyard: ‘here it is for you’. A new abandoned sofa for the series, thanks to Alan.

It would be lovely to publish a book as a thank-you to all my sofa spies.

Sofa in car park

Ashfield st by me

You can contact Christine via cdvphotography.com, or by email: christine at cdvphotography dot com. You can see more of her sofas in the ‘Ambient’ section.

Eye, the international review of graphic design, is a quarterly journal you can read like a magazine and collect like a book. It’s available from all good design bookshops and at the online Eye shop, where you can order subscriptions, single issues and classic collections of themed back issues.

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