“Lit” is a collection of images that create a posthumous impression of a person based on the matches, matchboxes and matchbooks they collected. The project started when I unexpectedly came into possession of an extensive collection of over 2,000 vintage matchbooks dating from the early 1960s through the mid-2000s. The collection, which was contained in an expedition-sized suitcase, was generously given to me on a Pay it Forward group on FaceBook.
The person who provided the suitcase had retrieved it from a rubbish pile destined for council pickup and had little information about the former owner. She only knew it was owned by her neighbour, a man called Joseph who passed away sometime in 2014-2015. While I had no particular interest in collecting matchbooks, they struck me as a compelling photographic subject.
Several of the matchbooks represent classic staples of Australian phillumeny. Many others also provide information about Joseph, enabling the creation of a retrospective picture of his preferences, such as his sense of humour, his preferred Sydney hangouts, and his overseas travels. The resulting images provide an open-ended view into the life of Joseph, encouraging the viewer to conjure their own narrative about the person behind the matchbooks.
Kerry Fluhr is a Sydney-based event and documentary photographer.
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