Evocative Encounters: An Exploration of Artistic Practice as a Visual Research Method

Thera Mjaaland
2009 Visual Anthropology  
The main objective of this article is to discuss a rethinking of knowledge production that involves the incorporation of artistic practice as one aspect of its methodology. The point of departure is still photography as one such practice, and the fact that it is almost entirely banished from mainstream social anthropological methodology and analysis. To acquire a new position for photography within social science research practice, a repositioning of both the researcher and the role of the
more » ... he role of the image itself is sought. It is suggested that a visual methodology based on still photography must move beyond the interpretational boundary of the realist representational paradigm and approach the expressive aspect of the photographic medium. The empirical foundation for this article is the author's experience as an art photographer as well as a photographing social anthropologist in the northern province of Ethiopia, Tigray (Tigre). If, however, we are prepared to see it [knowledge] not as a thing but as a relation, in which otherness is located on a borderline of consciousness and in which it is important to seek out correspondences and continuities between perceptions as it contemplates the nature of reality and the phenomena of the world, rather than as being located in defined cultural configurations, then a visual exploration [ . . . ] can reveal parallels that-beyond the social mask they respectively wear-may bring together the concerns of the anthropologist and the artist. [Richardson 2006: 70, my emphasis]
doi:10.1080/08949460801986145 fatcat:upcsi3nnwbhsxg4amt6o3frume