Work From Home: A Fly On The Wall Exhibition

A glimpse into remote work and its implications through Johannes Pretorius’ latest photographic study
Evie Whitaker
May 13, 2024

Remote working is one of the biggest changes modern professional lives have experienced, forcing its way into homes amongst lockdowns and staying there through choice, reason and expectation. 

The widespread acceptance and adoption of this ‘movement’ could suggest complacency but the reality is quite different - something which photographer Johannes Pretorius has explored in his latest project exhibiting at The Dukes, Lancaster.

Gaining access to 80 homes across the north, predominantly Lancaster, Johannes has compiled a photographic study: Work From Home, which explores the evolution of remote working and its long-term implications on our socioeconomic structure. 

Photographer at Lancaster exhibition
Johannes Pretorius At His Work From Home Exhibition

A major theme throughout is his subjects and how their professions - arguably one of the most defining aspects of an individual's identity and livelihood - are present within the walls of their own home. The once bespoke and unmistakable environment for a craftsperson has transformed into a desk similar to that of someone in an opposite realm of work. A lecturer’s backdrop is now also a glimpse into their personal life and personality - ‘their home is now the site where personal and professional spheres intersect’.

Alongside the chosen 25 featured photos in the Work From Home exhibition, are quotes from subjects exploring the way remote working has been received. From liberation to isolation, each experience with remote work is completely unique but ultimately, there is a sense of resilience and adaptation to a complete transformation of everyday working life. 

Work From Home photography exhibition Lancaster The Dukes
The Exhibition In Discussion

Johannes shares his analysis of the photo study: “To the observer, the screen-based nature of most work makes it hard to tell professions apart. For example, not long ago, an architect's studio was instantly recognisable by the presence of a drafting table. Today, architects sit at desks interacting with data on screens just like computer programmers and project managers do.

“The photographs in this series reveal resilience. They highlight people’s capacity to adapt to changing circumstances imposed on them and to embrace opportunities to have their work suit their lives, rather than the other way round. Many participants reported that they find this liberating.

“But the photographs also reveal vulnerability and hint at the precariousness of work. The casual quality of the work environments seems to say that a job, and the financial security it implies, is fleeting. There are no guarantees. A few participants also noted that, despite widespread use of messaging apps, the social isolation of working alone can be challenging. The encroachment of work on home life can also be difficult to manage.”

Work From Home is exhibiting at The Dukes, Lancaster, between 30 April–14 June 2024.