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Accepted Paper:

Recontextualizing Photographic Objects: Bridging Artistic and Anthropological Research  
Megan Ratliff (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Paper short abstract:

Interventions of photographic archives (both museological and private) made by Carrie Mae Weems and Susan Hiller reveal the ability for art-based methodologies to present new pictorial narratives; these are informed by the historical, cultural, and material nature of the photographic object.

Paper long abstract:

Photography takes on a multitude of meanings and practices among many disciplines, with this text focusing on its uses within anthropological and artistic research. The interplay between these two disciplines can expand the typical uses of photographic output, going beyond the confines of either discipline. The text looks at two case studies focused on artists, Susan Hiller and Carrie Mae Weems, and their use of pre-existing photographs in their work. They are both practicing artists who create methodologies specific to the photographs they are using. In doing so, they blur the boundaries between artistic practice and anthropological inquiry. Carrie Mae Weems' photographic series called From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried reaches back to the very beginnings of photography. By creating new narratives with some of the earliest photographs made she unveils some of the negative repercussions of early anthropological images and how photographs are used to construct historical identity. Hiller's project called Dedicated to the Unknown Artists features her private collection of postcards procured in Britain over the course of many years, for which she created a method of citing and organizing according to several contextualizing factors. Examining both of these series reveals a methodological approach to using pre-existing photographs informed by artistic and anthropological frameworks. Recontextualizing photographic objects brings to the foreground concerns which perhaps exist in the blind-spot of any one discipline. The photographic object is imbued with concerns from several disciplines and this text presents one means of negotiating those concerns through interdisciplinary methodologies.

Panel P076
Hybridity Between the Practice of Art and Ethnography
  Session 1 Sunday 3 June, 2018, -