Twice a month, John Francis Peters talks to image-makers about their long-term projects and how they approach their work and subjects. This week he talks with frequent photo contributor Gabriele Stabile about “The Refugee Hotel,” a long-term essay. A portion of “The Refugee Hotel” ran in the FADER #57 photo issue. Currently, Stabile and writer Juliet Linderman are raising funds via Kickstarter to facilitate the final push toward book project completion. Check it out.
I’m really excited you’re making a book out of this project. I think it’s an incredibly important topic and I respect your dedication to the story. I’d like to talk about the moment you’re at now with the project, with the goal of it becoming a book. As you begin to revisit the subjects, does the book making process influence how you’re navigating the story?
First off, thanks to you and FADER for the undying, passionate support. This story first came out in the pages of the magazine a couple of years ago, and I feel honored it made the photo special issue. To get to your question, the book making process always had influence, in a way, because I always thought that this story really works better as a book, on a wider, more relaxed narrative than as a twelve picture story. So the actual pace of the storytelling, going on in my mind when I was about to embark towards yet another trip to a refugee hotel, was constantly informed by this idea of presenting all of this material in book form. Refugee Hotel is a strange story, really, I still find it very atmospheric, in the sense that the focus is more in the atmosphere of the photos than in their actual content.
It’s a little bit like a maze, easy to get in, difficult to get out, without a proper end or a coherent, linear narrative. But at the same time, the linear narrative is something I feel older photographers were really worried about, it belongs to another generation of authors. I hope the book looks very impressionistic when it’s printed, very much like a series of memories. I would love to stretch the incoherence of it all.