This is an incredible book that will move you deeply, even if
the true meaning of home and the trauma of losing it hasn't been
burnt into you by life itself. As someone who has experienced
eviction and poverty and loss, I confess I have strong feelings
about how people write about it, document it, photograph it. But
here it is done with a beauty, love, and respect that comes closer
to capturing the many shades of what it means and how it is
experienced than almost anything I have read. There is no
sentimentalization here, no glorification of the working class or a
home that after years of landlord neglect has become much less than
anyone would wish. Instead it is a deeply felt exploration of
meaning from many angles, a teasing out across perspectives, a
contextualization of loss and change through words and images and
My favourite section is the first one by Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Lasse Johannson, the experience of living on Hackney's Haggerston West Estate and watching it slowly emptying of people, introducing the incredible series of photographs from Haggerston and Kingsland Estates, with captions that add another level of depth to what the images make so vivid. Followed by a more literary piece by Paul Hallam, exploring estates in the plural and the singular, winding around the meaning and making of place and poverty, extracting quotes from residents that I confess made me shed a tear or two on the tube. There is much to ponder in Victor Buchli's Archeology of the Recent Past, and a clear contextualization of the particular within the broader history of Britain's social housing by Cristina Cerulli.
They come together in a thought-provoking, moving whole. No one can ever have the last, the final, the entire say of what estates mean to those who live in them, what it is like to live in them, what it is like to lose them. That is the point. Estate is simply a gift to those who read it, the gift of a view, a taste, an experience that will make you think and feel deeply.