Back in 2012 I was in a Photo History class in college. Our assignment was to go to MOCA Jacksonville (The Museum of Contemporary Art) and view the Shared Vision exhibition. We had to pick 1 photo and write an essay on it.
I chose ‘Apartment 304, 398 Main Street 2001′ from the ‘Family Business Series’ by Mitch Epstein. I had very recently experienced a fire in my apartment and thus I felt I understood the image.
I looked for my essay like crazy, but I can’t find it…
In any case, the fire’s been on my mind recently, and with this image as inspiration, I decided to create my own representation of the fire I experienced.
I had just turned on the stove to heat up some oil to fry some falafel. I stepped into the bathroom to grab something for no more than 30 seconds. Then my room mate shouted my name. I rushed out and there was a 3 foot tall flame coming up out of the burner and catching the oil on fire (yes, somehow, someway, the actual burner was on fire). We ran out and got the fire extinguisher and sprayed the flames for the longest time. When they were out, I turned off the stove and we surveyed the damage. There was now soot and fire extinguisher chemical EVERYWHERE. We opened all the windows and doors we could, turned off the fire alarm, answered the knock on the door from a concerned neighbor, called emergency maintenance and began cleaning. Adrenaline pumping the whole way through. Cleaning took days and days – scrubbing the walls, steam cleaning the carpets, wiping down the furniture, having maintenance come in to inspect the stove, paint the walls, replace the vent hood and cabinet doors. We had to replace the toaster, but I still currently use the microwave with the bubbled/sticky side. In any case, we were both safe and with all things considered there wasn’t a ton of damage.
Sadly, but understandably, I have no photos of the event.
So here’s my simplified recreation, a fire on a stove top the flame the moment before it’s discovery, before it’s destruction.