The potential of progressive artistic collaborations - diversifying photographic narratives in Zambia
(Anglia Ruskin University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how collaborative networks from the global north and south can challenge visual narratives of nations and promote visual self-governance through photography. The paper draws on the findings of the photographic collaborations between the author and photographers from Zambia.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores how collaborative artistic networks from the global North and South can challenge existing visual narratives and promote visual self-governance through photography. Artistic exchanges can catalyze change in complex national and historic visual narratives and might have found ways to overcome the 'binary agenda of colonialism' (Rings, 2017). I argue that the increasing diversity of collaborative art interactions have so far not been given enough attention in post-colonial and neo-colonial studies. Most studies focus on the notion of the 'other", 'difference' (Said 1978, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o 2000, Bhabha 1994) and geographical separation (Blaut, 1993). During photographic workshops in 2017 and 2019 with a group of Zambian photographers, visual artists and educators at the Visual Arts Council of Zambia, we aimed to embrace inclusive and complex visual narratives that broaden the understanding of current and historic societal events in Zambia. A lot of images from Zambia simplify the visual narrative and feed into established photographic depictions of low-income countries surrounded poverty, wildlife and dependent on foreign aid. These stories are mainly published through Western media outlets and fed back to the country through digital TV and international papers. There are very few opportunities to discuss these representations in a national context and to question its accuracy in representing the country as a whole. The paper will showcase outcomes from the workshops and will explore potential contradictions between and confluences of post-colonial and neoliberal meta-narrative and the artistic (micro) interactions.
Diversifying the visual library: photographic presentations and representations of the African continent