The Ttabo - If You Are Not In Here No One Will Know You Are Out There, an extensive erratum of and addendum to The Kaddu Wasswa Archive
(Hanze University of Applied Sciences)
Paper short abstract:
A performative presentation on the personal archive of a Ugandan elder and the potential pitfalls when attempting to present it to both Ugandan and international audiences.
Paper long abstract:
Since 2008 Ugandan elder Kaddu Wasswa and I work with his collection of photographs and documents. In 2010 "The Kaddu Wasswa Archive" was published as 'a visual biography' that gave an unusual grassroots perspective on aspects of Ugandan history. I edited and designed the book, but it is co-authored with Kaddu Wasswa and his grandson Arthur Kisitu. While initially thrilled, Kaddu Wasswa expressed more and more criticism of the book over the years, pointing out some of the consequences of my choices based on blind spots that included an emphasis on his failures and a primacy to photographs over stories that I could not - and still only partially can - understand. This paper will first position the use of my artistic practice as a research method that may contribute to the development of an 'aid for the blind' in terms of relating to archives, while building on Ariella Azoulay's positioning of the photograph as an encounter and Tim Ingold's use of the notion of correspondence. I will then introduce "The Kaddu Wasswa Archive" before discussing how Kaddu Wasswa's criticism of the book led to a new stage in our collaboration. We are currently preparing another publication and a documentary film based on photographs and documents as well as our shared experiences. Our hope is that our correspondence will generate encounters that provide insights into very different lives and times and the consequences of their contexts. The presentation has a performative form in line with my artistic practice.
Photo archives: silence and blindness