exploring the distances between us and our changing habitat
AFAR is a series of inter-related, multi-discipline arts projects by Opher Thomson. The works explore our changing relationship with the places we live and the natural world at large, with the hope of better understanding the deep feelings of separation and disconnect that seem so prevalent during this rapid and dramatic transformation of ‘home’. It is a project of listening, above all, in which the geographical reading of illustrative places is informed first and foremost by the voices of those who experience it. In turn, the works born from this process aim to encourage a wider, pluralistic conversation that allows the discussion to evolve. Film screenings, book presentations, and exhibitions are often therefore organised as participatory events, workshops or seminars, so as to allow this ongoing listening process to flourish and indeed shape future pieces, while also converting those distances into connections. As such each piece acts as a kind of invitation, and asks:
where might we meet?
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OPHER THOMSON interprets public space through images, sounds and words in the hope of better understanding how these places express and condition social dynamics over time – tracing the sedimentary stories that shape our future. His research considers migration as an action and home as a practice, and is especially concerned with questions of periphery and new forms of centre.
His films have been screened at important international film festivals such as Tallinn Black Nights, Torino Film Festival and Camerimage, and the feature length The New Wild: Life in the Abandoned Lands went on to be distributed theatrically throughout Italy and Austria. His books include the novel Travels Through Absence and the photo book The Place Between. Increasingly however, new projects are seen less as productions of finished pieces and more as ongoing explorations, with greater emphasis on dialogue and collaboration, questions and plurality. His latest research Forrest has already taken loose form through photography exhibitions, installations, guided walks, public readings and sonic performances, which anticipate a film, three photo essays and a collection of writings on belonging and longing — a kind of homeless book, Berth Songs.
Aside his own research, OPHER THOMSON is also involved in various social and community projects. Working alongside sociologists, geographers, architects, urban planners, social workers, volunteers, artists and locals, he offers seminars and workshops to help develop collective readings of space that can better inform projects and enrich participatory processes.
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