Category Archives: 3 Post colonial ethnography

Project – Post-colonial ethnography

Exercise: Browse through the “Tribal Portraits” catalogue and write a reflective commentary.

I browsed through the catalogue and something didn’t feel right. The images that I identified as anthropological studies weren’t bothering me. This was such a disparate collection that there was no coherence to it. A cynic would notice the price tags and realise that despite being shown “…in this new and exciting context…”  this was just a clever bit of marketing to bump up the value of rare objects while providing a platform for contemporary photographers and dealers to show their wares.

I knew the work of Mirella Ricciardi as I have her book “African Visions” so at least I could view her images in some sort of context. I recognised the pictures of Lake Turkana and remembered Rankin’s images of the same region that I researched for the “Imaging Famine” topic. I added the total price for her five images and realised the source of my discomfort….

Research Primitive Typologies

I’m not sure I understand “primitivism” as a real thing. Is it just something made up to justify acquisition?

Peter Lavery’s portraits, although diverse I wasn’t able to put them in any sort of context. (only 17 images are available on his webpage) What Lavery claims to have done is to remove himself from the photograph which seems at odds with what I think of as portraiture in which you (the photographer) engage with the sitter in order that they show something of themselves in their reaction to you. In “removing himself” from the picture and providing no context or titles, he has reduced his subjects to stereotypes. Perhaps that was his intention. David Bruce’s images from the Kalahari do show more humanity, the people are real , they are reacting to the photographer. Where he has taken them in their natural environment he has documented the people as they are living their lives. I could not find Alvaro Leyva’s work, perhaps not speaking Spanish hindered me. Echvierra’s work suffers from the same problems as Lavery’s.