EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution
Collaboration in visual work: with whom, how, what for? (VANEASA)
Date and Start Time 31 July, 2014 at 14:00
Producing visuals works can be a lonely undertaking, it can also be a joint endeavor or a group event. Visual works might be any kind of objects, arrangements of objects, objects of art, film, or photography. How do people work together in the creation and the analysis of these objects and what for?
Working with visuals in anthropology, means nearly always working together with other people. They come from different backgrounds and the ways of cooperation are diverse. In the workshop we would like to examine the process of collaboration in the creation of visual works and its significance for the outcome and the research question posed.
Working with visual implies on one side the analysis of visual representations, of creations of art and crafted objects, but also of space, constructions, arrangements of furniture, or arrangements of any objects in daily life and at festivities of any kind. Visual representations are very often created in joint labour which might or might not be considered as collaboration. How do work people together creating visual works, with whom and what for?
Working with visual implies on the other side the use of visual methods in anthropological and applied research, the creation of drawings, photographs, or films as means of analysis as well as publication thus producing visuals as document, as narrative, and/or as argument. Producing images means frequently being in relation with others. But there are moments where this relationship becomes more intimate, more intense, and/or more creative, and become be a collective and/or collaborative enterprise.
How do academics work in teams, how do they work together with other academics, with non-academic colleagues, and for most with locals, politicians, and/or? What benefits are achieved for whom in collaborating or working together, and what difficulties have to be expected and overcome?
Cataloguing and recontextualising visual archives: a very collaborative enterprise
Archives offer continuity but are challenged by innovation and need to renegotiate access and new digital partnerships. Creators of a visual work act as an interface at a given time between themselves and a community. These freeze framed, captured moments rarely have closed meaning.
As meaning of visual objects is often generated in the process of communication with their viewers, they will experience drastically changes, and meet new collaborators in their 'second life', once they enter an archive or exhibition. These changing relationships between creators, owners, and audiences of artefacts, often referenced to Clifford's 'Museum as contact zones' (1997) apply as well to archives.
Drawing on current archive cataloguing work - Arthur Howes' Sudan collection (1980s), films/photographs of a 1930s expedition into the Pacific - I will introduce some collaborators in this process of 'unlocking these containers of histories'(Bell 2003). The process of cataloguing, researching and sharing film or photographs with their various communities is a very collaborative work. By repatriating images they become new frameworks through which traditions can be revisited, contested and discussed. The stories and memories that emerge from their 'source communities', as well from collaboration with agencies, friends or family members of the creators (who often became the legal copyright holders), researchers and users of the material will not only enhance database entries but add value to the collection and give a second live to the visual work. Conservation today often means digitisation, involving other collaborators (film labs and restaurators) and the original visual works get transformed into digital formats, which potentially can be distributed to new audiences, via DVD, print media or online publication. This process, not envisaged by the original producers, brings together new collaborators, who face questions of access, distribution and exchange.
Audiovisual documentation of intangible cultural heritage in Slovenia
The Slovene Ethnographic Museum is a coordinator of the protection of intangible cultural heritage. Production of short ethnographic films is done in collaboration with the heritage bearers.
Slovene Ethnographic Museum is a coordinator of the preservation of intangible cultural heritage. Its Department of Ethnographic Film is responsible for audiovisual documentation and production of short films on the intangible heritage phenomena and their bearers. We collaborate with the heritage bearers in all stages of filming, from planning, shooting in the field, and finally presenting it to the primary society in the field, as we believe they are “owners of the knowledge” incorporated in their heritage. Films are of an interest to various institutions, schools and universities, societies and individuals in Slovenia and wider. Occasionally we collaborate also with other producers to give them basic guidelines how to produce representative videos for the Slovene Register of intangible cultural heritage and the UNESCO Representative list. The author will discuss several points of view of the project, among them requirements of the Ministry of culture, expectations of the bearers and video producers, methodological and ethical questions, as well as the copyright issue.
Tunuwame: video as a part of making an indigenous museum in the Mexican Sierra
How to use video in the process of planning a community museum in the Mexican Sierra is the topic of our presentation. Since 2006 we have facilitated, interpreted, and documented the process as members of the Finnish NGO Crash.
Three Wixarika (huichol) and Naaieri (cora) communities in Mexico have decided to found a community museum in the Sierra with the help of the Finnish NGO Crash and other Finnish and Mexican partners. The museum will be a vital part of their indigenous school system. As members of Crash we have facilitated and documented all the phases of the project since 2006. In the process we have applied an experimental and participatory method we call Generational Filming. Using this method of video/fine arts research we aim to record and show changing communal knowledge. We gather, conceptualise and convey knowledge in co-operation with the members of a community. As we record and view knowledge, discuss and debate, our understandings of the community and knowledge itself changes. The discussions are filmed, and then added to the next edition as a new generation of the video to be shown to other audiences. In our presentation we will show a reflexive methodology of working in video, which shows how the discussion between the partners is mediated.
Staging disability and love: reflections on a collaborative theatre and visual anthropology project
In the paper, we engage in a gentle parody of the SWAT approach to discuss insights gained and problems encountered during work on a hybrid project incorporating visual anthropology, theatre directing and theatre therapy, disability studies, ngo activism and public television.
In the paper, we discuss insights gained during a hybrid project incorporating visual anthropology, theatre directing, disability studies, ngo activism and public television. From 2008 Slobodan recorded various activities initiated by the theatre section of a Belgrade based NGO (Ziveti zajedno-Living together) for persons with disabilities, at the centre of which was an experimental project teaming up actors with disabilities, professional actors, a child actor, a theatre director and theatre movement professor (Marica), a disability practician (Leposava Stankovic) and a theatre play writer (Zlatko Grusanovic). The team prepared a play based on Shapespeare's Romeo and Juliet specifically adapted to the general social situation, and position of persons with disabilities in particular, in contemporary Serbia. The project resulted in a play that was staged in leading Belgrade theatres, and grew into a television reportage on the preparation of the play wired on national TV (RTS) in 2011. While the strengths of such a collaborative project might seem obvious, we were bedeviled by some anticipated, and a host of unanticipated problems. Problems had to do with contradictions between the team members' multiple roles and anticipations: social activism was at times corrosive to artistic idealism; anthropological insights entered into collision with a thickening fog of political correctness in the public; expectations concerning social inclusion were at times undermined by our collective insistence on the integrity of life experiences of Others with disabilities; finally, TV publicity perceived as favoring some more than others partly backfired, creating tensions among activists from the NGO.
Art activism - collaboration in creative work: an experimental audio-visual live performance in anthropology
This performance exemplifies how the relation between imagination and critique translates into creative practices of innovation and forms of political dissent during times of “crisis Europe”. We aim for an experimental audio-visual live performance to merge form and content on multiple layers.
This paper reflects upon a documentary film project in the making. The documentary captures the collaborative and creative processes of realising a video art piece with a group of transnational artists based in "crisis" Barcelona. The documentary project is a collaborative experiment of visualising anthropological knowledge while it is generated in order to explore technologies of knowledge production.
I initiated the documentary project as an investigation in audio-visual form to create an avenue for collaboration. By initiating a project myself, I immerse in the work patterns of young artists and their key strategy of survival in crisis Barcelona. I understand participants as epistemic partners and experts in their respective fields, who share my intellectual curiosity and pursue similar goals in varying mediums of expression.
The content of the paper merges with audio-visual materials created in collaboration with the digital artist Hannes Andersson. To push anthropological knowledge generation and its methodologies we engage in an experimental audio-visual live performance in anthropology. The performance mirrors the principles active in the making of the documentary and aims to merge form and content on multiple layers. I understand this form of engagement to be positioned at the intersection of anthropological practice, artistic intervention, and the collective effort of intellectuals to trigger critical thinking. The aim is to explore anthropological methodologies while making political questions accessible to a wider public through creative mediums.
Visualizing the neighbourhood: participatory photo research put into question
How do local residents see their neighborhood especially when the neighborhood is known as one of the "most diverse places on earth"? Does this diversity come into play when asked to take photographs of their everyday surrounding? How do their visual representations differ from others?
This presentation seeks to contribute to the body of work concerned with photovoice and photo elicitation projects with reference to my fieldwork in Astoria, New York City (within the Globaldivercities Project at the Max Planck Institute). There is a notable upsurge recently in using visual methods in studying the everyday practices. I used photography, video and mapping strategies alongside the more traditional ways of doing ethnographic participant-observation to investigate the processes of everyday interactions amongst diverse people and the notion of public space. Therefore I planned a photo project with local residents to show me their view of the neighborhood. Astoria is known as one of the "most diverse places on earth". Articles about the neighborhood promote not only the diversity of ethnicities but also e.g. diverse cuisines. Would locals represent their quarter the same way? I asked some people - who are as diverse as the neighborhood itself - if they would take photographs of their neighborhood which are "typical" for the area. What kind of picture would they take to present their quarter to an outsider? Additionally I asked also for pictures of public spaces and places of interaction in particular. After the photographs were developed I met with each participant individually and talked about the pictures. I shall discuss findings but also challenges of working with cameras in participatory photo research projects.
Filming my parents: methodological challenges of family documentaries
Visually documenting your own family pushes the boundaries of reflection on the issues of methodology behind the production process of anthropological documentaries on the one hand and on the challenges that arise along with establishing your fieldwork at home on the other hand.
Visually documenting your own family pushes the boundaries of reflection on the issues of methodology behind the production process of anthropological documentaries on the one hand and on the challenges that arise along with establishing your fieldwork at home on the other hand. This paper looks at how family documentaries are influenced by the kinship relation between the filmmaker and the subjects and more specifically, how family is represented by the author in this specific situation. The starting point of the research is a short documentary I have produced, which follows the reactions, the daily activities and the thoughts that emerge in the first weeks of retirement of my parents. This research suggests that the visual representation of one's domestic intimacy is at the meeting point of personal goals, professional objectives and standards and the need to protect your family.