photography as a form of dialogue?

These articles highlight a number of practices and ideas that envision and develop the dialogic possibilities of images. The conversation of Siobhan Warrington and Edward Ademolu speaks of the paradoxical potential of the image to close and open plural perspectives. They converse about a shared concern about which voices are heard (and heard) in debates on NGO imaging.

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By repositioning the diaspora audience and NGO image subjects as active contributors and actors within the image creation process, his research projects raise the question of what these NGO images care about. As social science researchers, Warrington and Ademolu use photo elicitation, 3 using images directly with research participants to stimulate conversations about performance. While his research highlights photography’s ability to misrepresent and perpetuate racial stereotypes, his methods harness the potential of photography to open up new spaces, encourage critical reflection and “respond” to images and image makers.

Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh’s work stems from a decade of sustained engagement with the people of Burj al-Shamali, a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, through her photographs. She writes that “photography has been our conversation tool and the excuse to spend time together and be influenced by others” (p308). Their article describes an extensive process of collecting images for a digital archive that sought to accommodate people’s plural motives for collecting photographs and revealing the oppressed stories in which they and their images are involved.

Eid-Sabbagh wants to broaden our concept of photography, reimagining it as composed of multiple metamidal layers that animate and centralize the emotions, hopes and privations of the people who took and saved the photographs. She conceives of photographs as complex constructions “of relationships, time, vulnerability, narratives, hopes, refusals and silences” (p. 309). Making visible the ongoing dialogue between these layers as part of Eid Sabbagh’s vision of hers expands the archive’s possibilities for emancipation.

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