Crafting alternatives: contesting representation and artistic expression in visual anthropology.

Rebekah Cupitt (Birkbeck, University of London)
Edgar Gómez (RMIT University)
Ligertwood Flinders 314
Start time:
14 December, 2017 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

In critique of the ethnographer's control over the image and its relation to institutional practices, new participatory visual methods in visual anthropology have emerged. These materialities and practices of image-making offer alternative representations of the individual's relation to the state.

Long abstract:

Early anthropology was often performed in service of a foreign state and the images and films of visual anthropology as well as the craft and traditions behind the practices of making visual records, reflect the power of a foreign state and a colonial researcher. A re-thinking of the visual emerged in response to critique of this outside ethnographer's control over the image and its narrative, which spawned new methods. These participatory visual methods and their epistemological considerations are key to de-colonising ethnographic practice. The craft and the technologies of image-making are critical to the exploration of artistic and decolonial forms of expression in visual ethnographies. They create alternative subjectivities, as the distinction between filmmaker/photographer/anthropologist and the 'subject' blur. Recent explorations of the multimodal and sensory potential of ethnographic films address the arguably Western focus on the visual, opening up anthropological representations to other modalities and ways of being that stand in contrast to formal narratives of for example, the state. These developments allow a consideration for alternative representations, other forms of ownership, authorship, and an ethnographic practice which captures the complex relations between individuals and state imaginaries and practices as they materialise in the image. This panel is interested in projects that explore various alternatives to image-making practices, modalities, and visual forms of expression that challenge the authority of the ethnographer/image-maker, de-stabilise institutional modes of representation, and consider the relationalites between image-making, the individual and the state.