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Accepted paper:

"Feral marginality": negotiating neighborhood for visual experimentations


Ralf Marsault (Phanie, centre de l'ethnologie et de l'image, Paris.)

Paper short abstract:

Approaching squatting activists, this visual anthropology methodology dialogues with the invention of images produced by the field. Its esthetical performativity renders, at times, areas of sensation that open to perceptive schemes exceeding simple captures of discriminate identities.

Paper long abstract:

The proposed paper originates from fieldwork on the Berlin Wagenburgen, squatted spaces where groups of Punks and Political Activists still nowadays defend a specific art of experiencing urban geography. Assumed political choices or/and a social necessity, those dwellings of trucks and caravans camp on remaining wastelands, where their everyday life partakes in a culture of sensory experimentations thru rites of passage. But this weltanschauung paradoxically exploits also the resources (health care, unemployment benefits…) of the social contract it is challenging. Such ambiguity induces then each actor to the production of a fictional style (clothes, markings, attitudes…), reflected too in the appearance of the dwellings as extensions of the self, in order to lure, poetically, threats of policing. The liminal nature of this inhabiting at the margin proves a challenge for ethnographical rendering, when visual documentation cannot nurture or emphasize stigma. This communication introduces a methodology in visual anthropology using the resources of artistic creation in order to share with the field a construction of knowledge, while respecting the ethic of analytic research. Inspired by the experience of a longterm study of intimacies in a participating observation, its diagrammatic esthetic confronts itself to the style soliloquies of the inhabitants, "edged with mist" in a kind of Woolfian literary composition, this time when doing photography dialogues with the inspirational images that the field produces and manipulates itself. Sometimes, those "together experienced" schemes render complex and ambiguous perception modalities of the approached territories, that exceed usual captures of discriminate identities.

panel MV08
Photography in Motion