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Como la casa mia

Como la casa mía [Like My Own House] portrays the encounter between Xirou Xiao and photographer Laura C. Vela, two young women from different cultures who live in the same city and share the same desire: to find their place and create a home.

The project is a drift towards the inner self of the protagonist, a Chinese migrant. For three and a half years, Laura accompanies Xirou in her search for a way of being in the world, hence creating an identity in constant adjustment. Acknowledgement of a new context, receptiveness and serenity become the pillars of the personal search and intercultural friendship that they establish together―a refuge they would like to expand, thus building the universal from the particular.

“The photographs’ tight framing reveals little about the places they depict, but emphasizes these places’ atmosphere, or what it felt like to look at them. Mostly, however, we see photographs of Xiao – inside and outside: at home or on the street, sitting in a car, leaning against a wall, and walking in a yard. Her varying clothing indicates the changing seasons; her hair grows with the progression of time. Many of these images live from Xiao’s extraordinary face – her exalted or withdrawn expressions; and her gestures, such as the graceful movements of her hands. There is an affect and bodily awareness to them that might suggest a performance for the camera, but it isn’t really, because it has little to do with acting and everything with the slowly evolving collaboration, and friendship, between Vela and Xiao. What we witness, then, within these atmospheric color photographs, is the portrayal of an internal landscape that reveals itself through small gestures – that C. Vela captured with an attuned eye: whether it is the fine lines of a smile, the way to lace a shoe, or an oblivious flicking the tongue while perusing supermarket shelves.

There are only a few photobooks, though, that have brought me, repeatedly, to the verge of tears. ‘Como la casa mía’ is one of them.”

Sabrina Mandanici, Collector daily

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