Pictures of Birds

Alana Perino

2017 - Ongoing

Longboat Key, Florida, United States; Sarasota, Florida, United States

“Pictures of Birds” is an ongoing series examining selfhood, family, and home. Longboat Key, a Floridian island of condos and snowbirds, became the strange backdrop of my parents’ fading health and their children’s mourning process. This project is a deeply personal investigation of the ancestral traumas and privileges that shaped my family’s values and my concept of self. In this study of a specific family in a specific circumstance I aspire to question the nature of whiteness, class, and inheritance.

During my visits to Longboat Key, I immerse myself in the fears and aspirations of people preoccupied with death. I am drawn to how posture and gesture reveal the psychological. I call attention to the arrangement of a retirement community landscaped to affirm health and wealth and attempt to show the ways that this façade is compromised by the ever-present nature of illness and mortality. I search for the entanglement of the mundane and strange in domesticity, trying to reveal how birthright is conditioned on pedigree by highlighting the physical and cultural tensions of a mixed family. I feel that my photographs are successful when the boundaries between abundance and scarcity, vitality and despair, acceptance and critique, become porous or indistinguishable.

The photographs, like the landscapes and rituals of upper middle class communities, are a hybrid of the naturally occurring and the staged. Some scenes are drawn from memories, both real and imagined. Many are collaborative reconstructions of exposed emotional states. Others are stolen in moments of confusion, usually followed with the subject’s suggestion, “Why don’t you take pictures of birds?”

In this project I embrace the reality that no matter where my camera is aimed, it is always looking inward at who I am, what I fear becoming, and how I want to be remembered. It is a bitterly affectionate attempt to find strength in the insecurities of heritage.

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  • Nina's Afghan

  • Madi on Stairlift

  • Longboat Key Club

  • Saint Mary Star of the Sea

  • Upstairs Condo

  • Lori

  • Letty’s Shells

  • Bay Isles Private Beach

  • Lori’s Mercedes

  • Harbouside Drive

  • Harbour Oaks Private Pool

  • Dad

  • Birds of Paradise

  • Madi’s Hair

  • Letty’s Golden Fruit

  • Master Bedroom

  • Jewelry Boxes

  • Letty

  • Letty’s Lamps

  • Saint Armands Key