For George’s Bath, photographer Corinna Kern focuses her lens on the unassuming bathtub of George Fowler, a 72-year-old man struggling with compulsive hoarding. After befriending him at an eviction resistance event and discovering that he had lived as a squatter in the 1970s, Kern stayed with Fowler for two months, and each day she witnessed the shocking versatility of his bathtub. Sequestered from the chaos that permeates the rest of the large home, the small tub had been transformed into an unlikely site of household order, where everything from dishes to clothes are carefully cleansed and tidied.
In contrast to the confused and distressing images we normally associate with hoarding, George’s bath emerges as a safe space, a private sanctuary from the unfathomable build-up of objects that has claimed the house beyond. Like unwanted anxieties, dyes and pigments are released from soaking fabrics and food containers and into the warm water to be washed down the drain. As in a strange womb, George sits nude and exposed, and this cramped domestic becomes both familiar and mysterious, uncomfortable and mollifying.
All images © Corinna Kern