Sculpture Girl Pair

Sculpture Girl Pair309
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One Essay Response

  1. ajmcgrat says:

    Tanur's photo here illustrates how material objects can become enmeshed with affective narratives by ringing with extra-corporeal intensity. At the same time they are intimate and symbolic. Detached from any visual narrative, this photo can hold as a symbol of static relationality, or maybe the joy of place and moment. There is also merit in attuning to the material object as opposed to the fleshiness and revelation of the person. For anthropologists like myself, the ethics of visual representation are indices of an old but persistent crisis.
    As illustrated by her critical analyses of the discipline's colonial, complicit, and persistent racializing visual practices, anthropologist Deborah Poole has shown that anthropology has had, and continues to have, an infelicitous relationship with visual technologies and methods (2005, 159-179). Historically situated as a tool of colonial appropriation and exploitation, photography in contemporary ethnographic research has evolved in parallel to the discipline's textual crisis of representation, a turn which has critically called into question the researcher's power in relation to her interlocutors. Moving past this crisis to examine the uses of the image by interlocutors themselves, media anthropologists have highlighted the material worlds of photography as local and global instantiations of resistance and counter-institutional affective narratives embodied in disparate forms, from family archives to identification cards (Lydon 2005; Pinney 1997, 2004, 2008; Strassler 2010).
    For me, there is real power in collaboration between the researcher and their subject that coalesces in the creative act. In this way, the visual artifact, the photo, is but one part of a broader realm of virtual possibility where the perennial "other" of social science can be emboldened to re-appropriate their agency and narrative. The object, instead of the human body, as the subject in-focus can be a refusal of the identity that documentation has historically engendered. It can also be a refusal of the self as cultivated at the pleasure of the structures, institutions, and disciplinary norms our interlocutors struggle through every day.