This Lab investigates what photography is and does. Each participant shares a photograph and its narrative of embodied memories, physical presences or imagined aspirations, and these are presented to the conference audience in an exhibit that addresses the role of the medium in future anthropology.
Photography entered anthropology during the positivist era and was claimed to perform as evidence. This idea has transformed through through ethnographic studies of various local practices where photography has been linked to pre-existing practices of making the unseen perceivable - including collaborations with art practice. These studies have explored how photographic objects and practices are embedded in social relationships specific to cultural and historical contexts and have revealed notions of bodily relics, embodied memories and channelling of ancestral power. Their challenges of a single narrative of photography's nature and meaning have evoked the plural term photographies (Wright 2013). This Lab invites the participants to conduct an ethnography of photographies by sharing a material photograph together with the personal story and social environment they have situated it in. It asks if these narratives can tell us something about what photography is and does, and if they have implications for how photography can be used as a medium in future anthropological practices. The aim is to emphasize the relationality of photography instead of strictly visual meanings or technological developments. Through a collaborative process, the Lab will materialise into an exhibition within the conference space where the photographs are presented in relation to their stories and the following discussion. The participants are encouraged to exhibit their image and narrative in individual ways, such as prints, drawing, writing, and performance. Max 20 participants; kindly send the convenors a short note on your contribution before 15th July.