I have previously described my parents’ space as being private because it has created a sense of intimacy that I cannot find elsewhere. However, this is entirely circumstantial; this space, in comparison with all of the other rooms in the house, is very public. This is why there are moments where I love spending time in this space and there are times when I do not. Instead of reorienting myself in the space geographically, I now attempt to resituate myself in time, and I notice many differences in my lived experience of the space.
The main component of this space is the baby grand piano. The function of this piano in this room is of a very large ornament, as it is a space that is mostly shown off by my parents. My own function in this space when I am alone is solely an interaction with the piano. However when I am not alone, my body adopts functions similar to those of the piano; it becomes an ornament that my parents can flaunt to their family and friends and its purpose is to entertain. The space becomes a stage and I am no longer comfortable, I am no longer spending an intimate moment with myself and with the space. Essentially, not only is this space constructed in accordance to its social purpose, the embodied experience entirely depends on the other bodies interacting within it. I wish that I could go back and live within this space in the same way that I used to without having the awareness of exterior judgment on my body; I am however not permitted to do so because as soon as I sit down and feel around the instrument someone comes to watch. I have never noticed this circumstantial shift in the way I experience the same environment that has simply happened over time, and it is quite depressing. I must soon try and go there alone, to see if I can engage with the space the way I used to before I moved.
This is directly relatable to Lefebvre’s triad as it allows for the possibility to re-evaluate the nature of this space in different social contexts. It is ultimately part of a home, however I find Lefebvre’s notion of perceived space most intriguing when applied in this context because it is suggesting that these social constructions allow me to have a multifaceted sense of embodiment towards this simple living room. The space in this context symbolises the cultural obligation of self-disclosure that I am aware of whenever the situation arises, however it is also symbolic of practically therapeutic moments that I have had with it in the past alone with my own thoughts.
As I no longer live in this house, I believe that the relationship I once had with this space is now rejected. I cannot be alone in this space anymore as my parents are always there when I visit; I would not authorize myself to put up the tail of the piano as it is no longer my place to do so. Subconsciously, my body has been in a sense rejected, I am no longer fully allowed to act and be the way I used to, my lived experience has changed in this space. I must behave like a visitor, and by doing so perhaps I now experience this newly positioned living room as a public space.
Lefebvre, Henri. “The Production of Space.” The People, Place, and Space Reader. Ed. Jen Gieseking and William Mangold. London: Routledge, 2014. 289-293.
Hansen, Malene Vest (2002). “Public Places – Private Spaces Conceptualism, Feminism and Public Art: Notes on Sophie Calle’s The Detachment.” Konsthistorisk tidskrift/Journal of Art History, 71(4): 194-203.