Moving images and migrant metaphors - a journey and dialogue between the cinematographic, the ethnographic and the essayistic
(Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London)
Paper short abstract:
Using film / photographic research about global cotton manufacture, I make analogies between practices of filmmaking, fieldwork, writing and objects embodying metaphors of both contemporary migration events and notions of plurality and inter-disciplinarity.
Paper long abstract:
In this paper I analyse a journey and dialogue between the cinematographic, the ethnographic and the essayistic, using film / photographic research, drawing on Mieke Bal's 'migratory aesthetics' and writing on art, anthropology and migration (Demos, Ingold, Mezzadra and Nielson, Nail, Schimanski and Wolfe). I make analogies between practices of filmmaking, fieldwork, writing and objects embodying metaphors of both contemporary migration events and notions of plurality and inter-disciplinarity. Cottonopolis (2019) is my feature essay / ethnographic documentary film which relates cotton textile manufacture in contemporary India with the migration historiography of declined former industrial mega-textile cities like Manchester. Nomadic groups can no longer cross borders where previously they carried textiles for barter, yet the global cotton trade uses migrant labour and does little to combat human trafficking. The film reveals materialities and memories of making ubiquitous cotton calico, denim and shoddy items (recycled waste textile): blankets, towels, sleeping bags for military, schools and refugees. Shuttles carry weft threads across loom warps, known as 'boat shuttles'; mirror shutters revolve inside movie cameras exposing film stock to light; (now data driven shuttle-less looms and digital sensors). This technical mediation crosses boundaries and borders, the etymology of both words emphasising travel back and forth and a continuous opening and closing. The moving image, the cloth textile and the multi-sited field ethnography are spaces of expression and mosaics of time travel across borders.
Anthropological border crossings and migratory aesthetics