Abeer Hoque is a Nigerian-born Bangladeshi-American writer and photographer. She has held two solo photography exhibitions and is currently working on a novel and a new collection of travel-themed erotic stories. “The Long Way Home” is her book of travel photographs and poems, and its introduction is reprinted here. See more at her site, olivewitch.com, and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to order the book.
I’ve never had an easy time parsing borders. Even the places I belong to, and there are many, sometimes feel alien, and some strange places have become home. This is one of the reasons I love photography. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, only where you are and how you see it. It lives beyond language, maybe even beyond place.
In 2005, after four years in the Bay area, twenty years in the States, I sold or gave away almost everything I owned and left on a one-way ticket to Bangkok. From 2005 to 2012, I travelled to 30 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. I took over 25,000 photographs, held two solo exhibitions, and wrote 65 travel blog posts. About halfway through my gypsy turn, I started dreaming of making something smaller, more physical out of all this, a book.
Panama City, Panama
It took me a while to figure out what it might look like, how it would be structured. Each chapter is about a different obsession of mine: walking through cities at night, trees against sky, window panes and shutters, people on the street, bodies of water, of dancers, broken down beautiful things, patterns and details, and of course, the open road. They place Barcelona beside Kolkata, connect Dublin to La Paz, counter Dhaka with Mexico City, juxtapose Los Angeles with Prague, elide Pittsburgh and Rio, fit Alaska to Cornwall. I find these juxtapositions surprising, fitting, and most of all, joyful.
Because I’m also a writer, and a bit of a grid brain, I couldn’t let the photographs stand alone. (I’m one of those museum-goers who reads the captions first and then looks at the art:) Each chapter has a poem that relates to the theme, and each photograph is briefly described and geographically located (there is a world map at the back of the book in case you’d like to look a place up). The facing pages are grouped by visual content or subject matter or colour or texture or mood, or just about anything that struck me, and perhaps will strike you.
New York City, USA
I have too many people to thank for making the last seven years and this book possible. You know who you are. I am ever in your debt.
Abeer Y. Hoque
April 10, 2013
Photographs and text by Abeer Hoque
Book design and layout by Sabbir Amin