Words and photographs by Malik Dieleman
In this series, I created in-camera double-exposures. Each image depicts two pictures. The first is of a leaf found lying on snow. The second is of the surrounding trees. By layering these two perspectives, an abstract image appears where a leaf is filled with the same trees and land where it is from and has been its entire life.
Now separated from its branch, trunk, roots, and soil, does a leaf belong anywhere?
Using the metaphor of a fallen leaf, this series explores my own relationship to place. I’ve often wondered how much a place defines and impacts me. Is my identity wrapped up in “where I’m from,” and can that change? When removed from a familiar place, how can you not be reminded of it, and how can you not reflect it?
How come, no matter how long I live in one place, I don’t feel like I belong?
A fallen leaf looks up to the tree it once called home.
It notices others on the ground, and knows it is not alone.
I compiled these images into a book with a variety of paper textures. This encourages viewers to feel the pages and create personal connections to the leaves, emphasizing the physicality of the subject matter. The text provides short contemplations on the concept of belonging, allowing the viewers to reflect and connect to the piece intellectually. I found that the technically challenging processes of shooting, printing, and binding, stimulated personal reflection, as I explored connections between identity, belonging, and land.
Having grown up internationally between France, Senegal, and Canada, Malik carries with him a complex multi-cultural identity. With an interest in the arts, Malik studied photography at OCAD University while gaining experience as a videographer and graphic designer. Today, Malik is working as a portrait photographer and multi-disciplinary artist based in downtown Toronto.