Hard To Place 

“The title, Hard to Place, references the difficulty of placing Joseph in adoption because of his mixed heritage, but also the title alludes to the physical ambiguity of the multiracial body. “What are you?” is a frequent question a mixed body hears because the ways our bodies present themselves make us hard to place as well.” 

- Dr. Alexandrina Agloro (Mixed Roots Stories)

About This Project

Hard To Place is a true story about race, family and the child welfare system in post-war Britain.

Combining confidential, UK government documentation with archival and (auto)biographical photography, this series traces the experience of Joseph, an orphan boy of Nigerian and Irish parentage growing up in 1960s/70s London. As a “half-cast(e)” child, in England, Joseph was considered “hard to place” amongst the mostly white, adoptive families.

Joseph is my husband. The little boy seen in Hard To Place is our son. The images in the book provide a visual alternative to the official, master narrative of child welfare that many mixed-race children are imprisoned by.

Self Published, 2016
Printed by Conveyor Arts
60 pages, 6 x 8.5"
Paperback (Perfect Bound)
Edition of 50 

The Hard to Place photobook is available in the following bookstores/independent shops: 

What you see here is a selection of the images in this series, please contact me to inquire about viewing more.

Additional Reading:

1. Essay by Paula Kupfer.

2. Personal essay and response by Dr. Alexandrina Agloro for the Mixed Roots Stories February 2016 Commons.

3. "Gaining Identity Through the Archive in Qiana Mestrich's Hard To Place" Afterimage essay by Amanda Chesnutt.

Some Kind of War

About This Book

Some Kind of War (2013) is a rare, handmade artist book of poetry and short stories printed on onion skin paper.

History of the World

About This Book

History became popularized when H.G. Wells (yes, the War of the Worlds author) published his two-volume History of the World in 1920. It's quite ambitious to think that you can publish the world's story in just two books, but Wells did. This of course left much to be desired in the way of fairness and accuracy, not to mention little room for illustrations.

I have a desire to re-imagine history.

Using found images, I added my own illustrations to Wells' second volume. Historical and contemporary characters come to life (an Aztec warrior, an African Hottentot, glamour model Coco Austin, Cuba's Castro and Batista) in this pop-up book for adults. I further anonymize Well's text and create my own historical narrative by employing an old practice of covering public school textbooks in brown paper bag to be reused by the next incoming class.


About this Book

Self-published Blurb book of photographs and writing created during the first year of the ICP-Bard MFA program.
©Qiana Mestrich 2011-2020 and Beyond!