Freerange Press Vol. 4, Almost Home

Volume 4 of Freerange Press begins with a lofty ambition, a question framed around rising sea levels, mass environmental migration, and unpredictable weather, the zine is a meditation on what home means in the 21st Century. As always, a diverse range of contributors has been invited to offer input. Joe Cedarwall presents an illuminating piece on the precarious legal status of environmental refugees. Rajarshi Sahai looks at the etymology of two concepts in Hindi and Sanskrit, dealing with belonging and movement. Each contributor brings with them something genuine – Noel Meek offers a warmth and homeliness in his photo essay of Lambesses, a family of collectors, Elizabeth Rush brings a sense of disease and awe as she tries to make herself comfortable in New York. The zine, however, is unified by a sense of loss. An acknowledgement runs throughout that, as we begin to see the immediate effects of climate change, it is not just the physical manifestations of home that are in flux. How we use place to identify ourselves, to position ourselves within a conversation is also changing. Each of the contributors seems keenly aware, in their own way, of the repercussions of this. Each one, in their own way, makes pains to reconcile.

‘I wasn’t a tourist, but the city also wasn’t mine. I did not belong to it and it did not belong to me. People say it takes ten years before you can call yourself a New Yorker. The funny thing was that after a year of living on 10th street I didn’t even know if I wanted that title.’
                    - Elizabeth Rush, Climbing Inside the Giant


As with all collections, there are pieces that will appeal to some more than others. One particular standout is Ross T. Smith’s profile of Finish architect Juhani Pallasmaa. His argument is not a functionalist approach to built structures, instead he proffers that the home is a ‘remodeling and reconstruction of the earth’. Short form journalism requires one to be brief, but Smith remains erudite and concise in a little over 700 words. His argument is not condemnatory, but it does bring to light a growing sense of dissociation, a ‘narcissism and isolation’ that exists in how and where we build the structures we inhabit.

Another strong piece (taking into account my morbid fascination with the biblical tale) is the closing editorial on Cain. To end the zine, we move away from the home as an edifice, to examine the oft-overlooked vagrant. The zine ends with a proposition that we all, perhaps, bear resemblances to the figure. The enigmatic qualities of the figure surface in the closing statements, Cain is presented as wanderer, farmer, builder.

If it is, at times, a little fragmented, it seems intentionally so. The summation of these pieces is that home is no longer fixed. Home here is viewed not as a static postulation, but as something innately moveable. The zine offers solidarity, rather than answers. It’s an uncomfortable in-between space to inhabit, but there are fourteen writers and artists who are not only happy to inhabit the space with you, but see the space as motivation to create something great.

Review by Simon Gennard

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