Author:Rachel Taylor (Leeds Arts University )
Paper short abstract:
This paper will present observations of children's workshops at Foundling Museum. Photography was not permitted, drawing and field notes were used as a method to document the sessions. I will question if what I drew was what I truly observed, a doubt that Micheal Taussig describes as 'witnessing'.
Paper long abstract:
As part of an artist residency, I facilitated performance workshops with children to explore the child's 'voice' in the Foundling Museum.
Due to ethical restrictions, photography was not permitted as children are regarded as vulnerable. Instead, I recorded what I observed through drawing and field notes, and these images will be used to illustrate what occurred during the session during the paper.
I struggled not to draw the children. If I drew the child, I worked in a stylised format that represented the action but the child, s/he is unrecognisable, and the drawing could be described as a characterisation or an interpretation. It is not an image of the real child.
Later on in the process, instead of struggling with what I could and could not draw, I began to document the children's art work, as this felt ethically 'safer'. However, this process of simply copying another drawing did not spark the same revelations as drawing the children and their actions had. Rather than using drawing to 'encompass' (Taussig, 2011) events that I had witnessed, I was merely documenting drawings that I was seeing the children make. The act did not have the same process of looking.
During the paper, I will question if I drew what I truly observed. Micheal Taussig describes this as doubt as 'witnessing' rather than 'seeing'. This difference between these two types of observation will be used to analyse my role as a witness in the workshop sessions.
Anthropologies of witnessing: imaginaries, technologies, practices