/26 Habitare

Keliy Anderson-Staley

Off the Grid

Off the Grid (2004-2010) is a study of thirty families living in Maine without electricity, plumbing or phones. Scattered throughout the Maine woods, these homes are disconnected from the grid of wires and media that bind distant Americans together. Although they have all rejected aspects of the modern world, the beliefs and commitments of these individuals vary widely—ranging from environmentalism to evangelism to anarchism. Yet the families living in these homes—and on the occasional commune—form a sort of makeshift community. I see this project as an examination of how homes become an expression of personal ideology. I am especially interested in depicting the relationships between people and their homes through the mundane details of the material worlds they have built around themselves. I am drawn to the beauty of the crude, hand-made structures. For these families, their home is their masterpiece. Many of their systems are improvised and idiosyncratic, developed over many years.

I grew up in one of these log cabins, and this project started with my own family. Returning to photograph the area where I grew up, I am aware of being both an insider and an outsider. I do not want to over-romanticize this way of living or over-estimate the role it might play in resolving the global environmental crisis. I feel it is important to engage in discussions about the way we live and how our domestic lives impact the broader world.