Italian photographer Manuel Cosentino‘s first body of work, “Behind a Little House,” is a conceptual exploration of what it means to belong. “The need to belong is one of the most fundamental human motivations,” Cosentino says. His series references 18th- and 19th century landscape art, in which national identity was woven into visual representation; today, as Cosentino has noted, we are still able to bring to mind what the “wild” American west looks like thanks in part to this period in art.
In “Behind a Little House,” physical geography takes a backseat to the landscape of the human mind. Cosentino strips his images of geographical cues to “build a sense of belonging” through the “unifying nature of our common environment,” he explains. “I believe it’s important for [the house] to transcend geographical placement and become an idea.” The small, unadorned home sits small in the corner of each frame against a tall expanse of sky. Cosentino photographed the house in a range of conditions and at different times of day. The images appear almost painterly in their texture.
Cosentino photographed the series for two years, paring down his enormous library of images to eight final images for an installation of the project. He first exhibited “Behind a Little House” in the south of France during Les Rencontres d’Arles, and the work has been shown in international festivals, museums and galleries since. The images have also found permanent homes in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and in private collections.
Last summer, the series was on display as part of The Fence, a series of outdoor photographic exhibitions. Now in it’s fourth year, The Fence will be hosted in Brooklyn, Boston, Atlanta and Houston this summer. Submissions are currently open through March 23rd. Please visit the website for more information. – Jacqui Palumbo