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UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society


pics Photographic Images Changing Society

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society



PhotoVoice’s vision is for a world in which no one is denied the opportunity to speak out and be heard. PhotoVoice works internationally to amplify the voices of marginalised and issue-affected communities in decision-making and media through participatory photography and photo-advocacy projects.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

GlobalNet21 started as 21st Century Network in April 2007 to discuss some of the great issues of the 21st century and then follow this up with further debate and action. It is about enlarging the Public Square where debate takes place using social networks to bring new audiences of people into that debate.

Contents GlobalNet21




After You Bought Me


Bulgaria’s Unwanted


Gays in the Military: How America Thanked Me




New Bridges: experiences of seeking asylum in Ireland


Compassion Fatigue


Mind Over Matter


Ministry of Untold Stories: Visual Dialogues in Urban Landscapes, Athens


Refocus, Syria


Roma in Italy


Shifting Perspectives


Representations of Global Poverty: Aid, Development and International NGOs


Simon Norfolk: Photographs from the War in Afghanistan


Kick HIV Stigma Out


Life Through the Lens


Shoot Nations


The Story of Meile and Sergei


Rights! Cameras! Action!


Halton’s Photo Voices


Sensory Photography – Photography Without Sight


Ugandan Photo Diaries


Where the Devil Won’t Go


2: Gays in the Military - Vincent Cianni

Eyes of Youth, Albania - PhotoVoice


3: kennardphillips



4: street photography

Lookout London - PhotoVoice


Out of Context


6: E  yes of Youth, Albania - PhotoVoice - © Aleksis 2011 / World Vision / PhotoVoice

Street Photography


7: The Story of Meile and Sergei - Liisa Sîderlund

Yamuna’s Daughters


8: Shifting Perspectives - Richard Bailey

Whose Voice? The dangers of romanticizing Participatory Photography as a tool for change


The Public Square is the centre stage of GlobalNet21 where we engage with citizens, non-government organisations, companies and decision makers. We do this through meetings (some held in the House of Commons) and now also through online webinars and Podcasts. We cover a wide area of topics that are concerned with the issues that face us in the 21st century and you can find our programme of events on our meetup site at GlobalNet21 embraces the humanistic values of global compassion, personal self-discovery, shared development, planetary concern and a love of community; and it is committed to a more equal society where all are valued.

For more information visit









1: Bulgaria’s Unwanted - Cinzia D’Ambrosi

5: G  emma Taylor - Kick HIV stigma out - Photographer: Andoni Bello Lanestosa, TRI GAY Football Team and NGO, Mexico

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

In this picture the girl is thinking, I will go to Delhi again because in Delhi I will wear a good dress, high sandals and a handbag. Thinking of this, she is smiling. Sushmita P

introduction PICS is a celebration of the many ways in which photography can be used as a powerful tool for social change. The sheer variety of projects showcased here – in terms of geographical context, social issues addressed and methodology – shows the versatility of the camera and still image as a tool. But is it an effective tool? And if so, why? I hope that collecting these various projects and expert perspectives together into one place goes some way to answering this, and in the way that is most effective and one of the strongest traits of photography – by presenting the evidence before your eyes. As everyone can draw a different conclusion from the same photograph, however, and here are my thoughts on why photography can play a uniquely powerful role in so many forms of social activism. The chances are that since you got up this morning you will have been bombarded with photographs on hugely varied subjects and with a variety of intentions – in the morning paper, on billboards and posters in bus-stops, and on email and social media. Photos are everywhere, and whether we realise it or not they are affecting us all the time – where we click the mouse, what we buy, what news articles we watch or read and whether we think the news is important to us or not. The prevalence of imagery reflects a simple fact – it is an unparalleled tool of communication, able to prompt a reaction in the instant it takes for someone to catch sight of it, yet to convey a huge amount of information to someone who chooses to look closer. In short, photography is not simply an art activity based around creating pleasant pictures. Photography is a language that can be used to inform, persuade, shock, amuse or intrigue.

Street Photography - Sophie Howarth

This concept of photography as communication is important. Photography is not simply the creation of photographs that then exist as static objects saying one thing to anyone who sees them. Photography is a process that begins with the intention and experience of the photographer, passes through the lens of the camera and in some cases the editing suite of the darkroom or computer package, and concludes in the mind of the viewer. The photographer views the subject matter in a certain way based on the extent of their knowledge of context, their own cultural, religious or philosophical associations, and their personal attitude. This will inform the decisions made in how and why to frame that subject matter. No photograph is neutral, any more than an opinion piece or blog posting will be. Furthermore, however, the process of interpretation by the viewer cannot be guaranteed to replicate the photographer’s

intentions. Their perspective on the subject matter will be steered by the photographer’s choices of framing and style, but their associations and preconceptions could differ dramatically. For example, a photographer may choose to take a photograph of a woman working in a field as an illustration of poverty, whereas a viewer may see the same subject matter as an illustration of empowered self sufficiency. Recognising that photography is a process rather than a one way transmission of information or perspective is the first step to understanding both its potential and its limits as a tool for social change. It is important that people understand that it is not a medium that operates in a neutral space removed from opinion or bias, but that it communicates not just reality but a perspective on it. This is not a weakness but a strength, provided that the context and authorship of the photograph is conveyed alongside it, as it would be alongside an article or public speech. In other words, photography can provide a space for connecting people with alternative or contrasting perspectives, completely different world views, or different levels of knowledge or understanding about an issue. The fact that it can convey the key points so instantly and vividly to draw the viewer into that space and prompt them to find out that context is its power as a visual medium. The danger is that people take the photograph as a representation of ‘truth’ or ‘fact’ and then resent the photographer or campaign when they discover there is a more complex story than the frame that catches their eye on a poster, in a magazine or online. Visual literacy – understanding how photographs convey meaning and tell a narrative in a single frame – is vital not only to help people appreciate good or powerful photography and extract more meaning, but also to ensure they understand their contribution to the process and engage at a meaningful level. Connected to this is the self evident fact that a photograph cannot change anything in and of itself. People steer trends and developments in society, not visual objects. The role of photography is to fuel the process of change in individual behaviour and attitude. As the many projects brought together for PICS shows, the process of creating photographs can play a part in individual change, while the photographs themselves can cross cultural, geographical and social divides to carry information, stories and alternative perspectives to viewers the world over. In today’s world of digital technology the possibilities for creating these connections are all the more prevalent. Whereas in the not too distant past people were reliant on their immediate social circle and choice of print media to form their world view and inform their attitudes and actions, now the possibility for reaching people far removed from the effects of disasters, social issues and political oppression has become huge. The important thing to bear in mind is that the availability of alternative perspectives does not mean that they are accessed or noted by those whose attitudes or actions need to change to improve a situation. Our ‘social circles’ may have increased as a result of the internet and mobile phones, but this does not necessarily mean

they are any less selective and limited to our existing attitudes and interests. The curation of the internet to match our previously expressed interests by our browsers and search engines has become an important factor in targeted online marketing. There is a danger that this limits the spread of important information to the confines of a ‘bubble’ of engaged people and does not reach out to those people who are actually vital for the change affected being socially meaningful. The internet certainly allows the theoretical spread of photographs and stories across the world in seconds, and the power of photography to capture attention and provoke reaction and interest plays its part in making important points stand out and draw people in. Those wishing to affect social change, however, must go one step further and think hard about how to reach the disengaged, the uninterested, the uneducated and the actively opposed. The internet is still a limited community in global terms – and if it is considered to represent everyone and seen to be the space in which information leads to change there is a danger of those unable to access it becoming ‘double marginalised’ and truly slipping through the cracks of society.

Eyes of Youth, Albania - PhotoVoice

Having highlighted the importance of not solely relying on – or trusting – the internet to provide us with the platform to move from photography to social change, it is worth noting the versatility that photography provides over text, video and face-to-face action. The still image can be reproduced on posters, postcards, newspapers, magazines, projected images in public spaces, mobile phone messages, e-mails, Twitpics, social networks and more. In all forms it retains its power as a still image that can capture attention in an instant regardless of literacy, language, cultural background and existing interest in the issue being depicted. The full range of potential mediums need to be considered by anyone seeking to affect social change, so that they can consider a way to reach the right people with images that carry with them their context and all information or direction required, in order to provide not only the catalyst, but the fuel for individual change or action. PICS showcases a selection of projects that are taking steps to do this, and as new technologies make new approaches possible or necessary the diversity of methods and results is only likely to increase.

Matt Daw Projects Manager, PhotoVoice

After You Bought Me An exhibition of photographs and text by young tribal women exploring the causes and effects of human trafficking This is a photograph of a dolal (agent). She motivates the girls in this area to go to Delhi and cheats them. She gets 2000 rupees (about €40) from one girl. When I talked to her, she seemed afraid. Many girls, motivated by the dolal, leave this area to go to the city for work without telling their families. They wash clothes, clean bathrooms, bathe children, sweep floors. They do all the housework but the house owners do not treat them well. While the house owner sleeps on a bed, they sleep on the ground. When the family eats warm rice, the girls eat old stale rice. The house owner is bad to the girl. Some girls return home pregnant and some girls bring a child with them, but the villagers do not accept them. They do not touch them. They have no right to stay in the village. So they do not find a good way to live. They live alone. Sushmita P

These photographs were taken by nine young tribal women in Orissa, East India, over a period of three weeks in winter 2008/9 as part of a participatory photography project. The project aimed to raise awareness of issues surrounding the trafficking of tribal women from rural to urban areas in India. The project was the result of a collaboration between the Irish based Súil Eile project and Orissa based NGO PRAGATI. With the increasing wealth of urban centres in India and the consequent need for cheap expendable labour to feed this growth, often in the form of women and children, tribal people are vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking. It is estimated that about 25,000 girls have been trafficked from this district alone to more developed urban areas, both within Orissa and in other states. Trafficking in this area usually occurs through the activities of ‘work agencies’. District agents, or dolal, encourage young girls directly, or through their families, to take up employment in the cities. They are promised good wages, money for their families and luxury urban living for their labours. However the girls are typically sent to work in situations where they experience neglect, are often unpaid and can end up in situations of domestic slavery. Repetitive physical and psychological abuse is common. Súil Eile in collaboration with PRAGATI, worked with a group of nine young women between the ages of 14 and 24 in Alapaka village in the Sundargarh district over a period of three weeks in December and January 2008/9. The aim of the project was to create awareness of the issue of trafficking in this region, both locally and internationally, and to work towards its prevention. Through dialogue, development of visual awareness and photography skills, the women discussed, explored and documented issues faced by women in tribal communities in this region, as well as their own

perspectives and experiences around human trafficking. While guidance was given around themes and topics, as each photographer’s own confidence, visual awareness and style developed, she began to tell stories, her own and those of others, in different ways. The images were edited by the participant-photographers and a selection of these was exhibited in Alapaka village at the end of the project. The women also wrote and performed a drama about trafficking. The event was attended by around 150 people from the village and surrounding area and sparked off dialogue around the issues of trafficking and migration. It is hoped that the images in this exhibition may help to create a platform for discussion around the issue of human trafficking and the many, often hidden, forms in which it occurs. The images chosen seek not only to highlight the issue of human trafficking, but also to begin to illustrate the complexity of this issue, its causes and effects which are woven into the cultural, social and economic tapestry of these rural communities, as well as the ‘culture of silence’ which envelops particularly the lives of women. The images also seek to reflect the project itself – the broader processes which occurred through working on a collaborative creative project and the developing visual and verbal expression of the nine participant-photographers. The possibility of using photography as a means of generating income emerged during the project. A PRAGATI staff member was trained in the photographic methodology, as well as the use of the cameras and software. A photography cooperative has since been established in the PRAGATI centre at Alapaka using cameras donated by the project and a printer funded by PRAGATI. Four of the women are now working and generating income as photographers in their own villages.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Bulgaria’s Unwanted The Roma population has been present in Europe for centuries. However, the history of the Roma in Europe is marked by a lack of integration despite their large communities. The European Commission estimates that the Roma Population in Europe stands at more than 12 million, a considerable number in any regards. One of the most visible signs of their segregation is their placement in societies, starting from their poor and inadequate homes. Most Roma are living in the peripheries of towns and cities, often in ghettos, illegal camps or enclaves. Bulgaria has the highest number of Roma people at 5% of the overall population. However the Roma population is hardly visible outside of the ghettos. The largest ghetto - Fakulteta Mahala, in Sofia, Bulgaria is a world apart from the rest of the city. One in which ordinary Bulgarians do not enter, but are fearful of and discriminate against. Their schools are Roma schools or ‘segregated schools’ as they are referred to by the Roma because they are attended exclusively by Roma children. The Roma communities living in these districts have no access to basic public services, including health care, public transport, sanitation and waste collection. A lack of education and high rates of unemployment mean that there is no possibility of improvement in these conditions. Living conditions remain stagnant because the majority of Roma do not have a residents permit even if they have been born in the country. In general, whether they are European citizens or not, Roma communities are deprived of the opportunities of others.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Gays in the Military: How America Thanked Me Prompted by an interview with Private Nathanael Bodon’s mother in November 2009, who described her son’s discharge from the Army while serving in Iraq as an ‘outing’ by a fellow soldier in his platoon, I was moved to explore how many lives have been affected as a result of homophobia in the military. The real issues, as organizations such as the Human Rights Commission state, follow a long history of human rights abuses that gay and lesbian people have experienced. Harassment and discrimination based on sexual preference resulted in lost careers and personal lives. In many cases, these men and women – highly skilled, well educated, patriotic, courageous and productive – attained high rank, received numerous medals and held top-level jobs that were essential to the military. Hundreds of stories exist. Thousands have gone untold. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (DADT) an official US policy prohibiting military personnel from discriminating against other service members who were closeted homosexuals while openly barring lesbian or gay people from military service, failed to protect the human rights of a significant

portion of gay and lesbian military. At times service members were penalized and prohibited from receiving an honorable discharge to retain benefits accorded them for serving, oftentimes under extreme conditions of a combat zone. There was no recourse; their devotion to country went unnoticed and jobs were lost due to unjust policies. Some suffered economic pitfalls and some experienced the same medical, physical and psychological effects of serving during wartime. I have been interviewing and photographing gay and lesbian service members and veterans, recording their experiences and recounting the effects that the ban had on their career in the armed forces and their life afterwards. They include service members and vets from all branches and ranks in the military and from a wide array of socio-economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds. These interviews and photographs will be archived at the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library at Duke University and will be exhibited as a multimedia exhibition in 2012 and eventually a publication.

February 2005 saw the signing of the ‘Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015’ in Sofia, Bulgaria. This was an initiative by the Central and South-Eastern governments to work towards eliminating discrimination and making improvements to the socio-economic status of the Roma within Europe. Sadly, in Sofia where this initiative was to begin a new era of tolerance and acceptance for the Roma, improvements hardly reached them. In fact, recent years have shown an increase of discrimination towards the Roma in Europe, including the decision in some countries to expel them. Although, the images in this photo essay ‘Bulgaria’s Unwanted’ are from the Roma ghettos Fakulteta Mahala in Sofia and Kjustendil, the living conditions of the Roma illustrated are not exclusive to Bulgaria. Many if not most European cities have segregated areas where Roma communities live in similar conditions. html

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

kennardphilipps kennardphillipps is a collaboration between Cat Phillipps and Peter Kennard working together since 2002 to produce art in response to the invasion of Iraq. It has evolved to confront power and war across the globe. The work is made for the street, the gallery, the web, newspapers & magazines, and to lead workshops that develop peoples’ skills and help them express their thoughts on what’s happening in the world through visual means. The work is made as a critical tool that connects to international movements for social and political change. We don’t see the work as separate to social and political movements that are confronting established political and economic systems. We see it as part of those movements, the visual arm of protest.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

“Even when we have arguments, we keep our voices down so that the corridor remains calm and quiet. I think most people will do that.” Fola “There is no way you can go to your room unless through that corridor. It’s always there, when you come back. The kids, they like to play in that corridor. Sometimes you find them with all the doors open, all the doors up to the end. You can see them racing their bicycles, it’s nice for the kids because they don’t have any ground to race their bicycles, this is the racing course for them. It’s so nice when you find kids playing, very happy, and they don’t have any idea what’s going on.” Josephine “Basically it’s like a street, you’ve got no control over it, people might leave it dirty, might leave it clean, that’s the way it goes.” Anonymous “When I’m walking towards my room, there’s a wall with a door that’s not a door and that’s how I feel every time I’m in here. To me it’s a representation of my life. There is a door, but it’s not a door.” Anonymous “It looks calm, it looks quiet, it looks deserted, but definitely a lot going on in the rooms, a lot of pain, a lot of trouble, a lot of crises, going on in the rooms certainly, but everybody comes out, you wipe your face off, pretend as if everything is fine, walk the corridors…” Fola

Above: G8 Gleneagles, 2005 Right: Photo Op, 2005 Below: Know Your Enemy, 2005

New Bridges: experiences of seeking asylum in Ireland “This reminds me of when you are at school, or just traveling, passing by in a hotel, you stay in such a place where they have to know your room number. When I remember my home, I had no number, but this reminds me that I am in a temporary place where they know me by this number.” Norah

‘New Bridges’ is a collection of images and texts emerging from a four month participatory photography project with asylum seekers living in the ‘direct provision’ system in Ireland in 2010. There are around 6,000 people currently living in accommodation centres all over Ireland – in hotels, hostels, army barracks and holiday villages, waiting for their claims for asylum to be processed. Many of these people have escaped torture and persecution, or have run from dire poverty in order to attempt to create better lives for themselves and their families. Direct provision is the main system in Ireland which accommodates asylum seekers awaiting claims for refugee status. Established in 2000 as an emergency measure to deal with the increasing numbers of people seeking asylum at this time, the system was originally designed to accommodate people for up to six months while their claims were being processed. Twelve years later, it is still the main system in place, with almost half of its residents waiting in limbo for over three years, and many for longer: 6, 7, 8 years for some. Asylum seekers in Ireland are prohibited from accessing employment and third level education while awaiting claims. They are fed and housed through the direct provision system, and provided with an allowance of €19.10 per week per adult and €9.60 per child, an amount which has not changed since the system was set up in 2000.

direct provision system. The project sought to explore the everyday experiences of living in direct provision and seeking asylum in Ireland and to create images and understanding which look beyond the imposed label of ‘asylum seeker’, challenging the categories, assumptions and stereotypes that this label carries. All photographs and texts were created by the participants of the project. These photographs were chosen by the participants as part of an exhibition entitled ‘New Bridges’. The images and words are an acknowledgement of the attempt to bridge the cracks, both within the self and between the self and others, between people and places, between communities, between understandings, between loss and hope. It is through bridging the cracks that we can begin to move forward and create a better life, finding new places and ways of being, while acknowledging our roots and past experiences. Lodged in the work is an inherent awareness of both instability and hope in changing circumstances. The work is part of a doctoral research project, aiming to explore and to create a better understanding of asylum and direct provision in Ireland, based on the experiences of those living within this system. The work seeks to explore everyday individual experiences of living in direct provision and seeking asylum in Ireland through and with the voices of asylum seekers themselves, and to represent these experiences in ways which challenge categories, assumptions and stereotypes, allowing for multiplicity and complexity.

The photographs and words emerged from a four-month collaboration in 2010 between Zoë O’Reilly and eight individuals seeking asylum in Ireland and living in the

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Mind Over Matter Dementia, which literally means ‘without mind’ affects cognition and can cause dysfunction of memory, attention, language or problem solving. In many cases dementia can lead to a total disorientation of time; not knowing the day of the week, the month, or even what year it is. It can also cause disorientation of place as well as loss of memory of people i.e. not knowing who they are or knowing others around them. Understanding the science of this disease entails undertaking research on human brain tissue from donors, drawn from both people who were affected by dementia and people who were not. The practice of retaining bodily parts for medical research has been rendered abject through past cases of unethical practice and adverse media attention.

Compassion Fatigue The dream of photojournalism is that when a crisis is pictured the image will have an effect on its audience leading to action. However, according to Jacques RanciËre, the dominant mood of our time revolves around ìa general suspicion about the political capacity of any image.î This suspicion is generated in part by ìthe disappointed belief in a straight lineî ñ as visualised in the photography of Sarkozy at Rwandaís genocide museum ñ ìfrom perception, affection, comprehension and actionî. [Jacques RanciËre, The Emancipated Spectator, trans. by Gregory Elliot (London, 2009), p. 103] Before we can construct a meaningful account that traces possible links between visual representation, knowledge and action, we need to dispense with some conventional wisdoms that purport to explain how photographs work. I believe one of the largest obstacles to be removed is the ëcompassion fatigueí thesis. One of the commonest claims relating to the alleged impact of photographs of atrocity, violence and war is that they induce ëcompassion fatigueí in the public at large. This claim often starts with an assertion about our media saturated world, and is part of the general suspicion about the capacity of images RanciËre noted. At its heart is the notion that, far from changing the world, photographs work repetitively, numbing our emotional capacity and thereby diminishing the possibility of an effective response to international crises. Expressions of this belief can be found in a wide range of disparate contexts. In an interview following his World Press Photo award, photography Pietro Mastruzo noted ìShocking pictures do not really communicate anymore, because the audience is accustomed to looking at themî; the late Magnum photographer Eve Arnold was reported as once saying, ìYou know in the beginning we thought we were going to change the world. I think people live in so much visual material these days, billions of photographs annually, that they grow numb after too much exposureî. Numerous other writers and photographers attest to the ubiquity of this view. I argue in my paper ‘The Myth of Compassion Fatigue’ that the compassion fatigue thesis is an allegory that serves as an alibi for other issues and prevents their investigation. What is notable about compassion fatigue is that it means one thing in the context of health care and social work, and the reverse in relation to the media and politics. From perhaps the 1980s and certainly the 1990s, compassion fatigue was understood as ìSecondary Traumatic Stress Disorder,î and diagnosed in people either suffering directly from trauma or individuals working closely with people suffering trauma. In this context, although it concerned a set of negative impacts on those affected ñ such as reduced pleasure and increased feelings of hopelessness ñ it derived from the problem that ìcaring too much can hurt.î In other words, compassion fatigue was prompted by an excess of compassion rather than a lack of compassion. As the

Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project states, when caregivers, who have a strong identification with those suffering, fail to practice ìself-careî they can be prone to destructive behaviours. Susan Sontag is the writer who drove much of the popularity of this thesis in relation to photography, and my paper unpacks her arguments in ‘On Photography’, exploring their logic and supporting evidence (or lack thereof) before discussing how she retracted much of them in ‘Regarding the Pain of Others’. Sontagís reversal has had little impact on the ubiquity of the compassion fatigue thesis, and that is in a large part a result of arguments like those found in Susan Moellerís book ‘Compassion Fatigue’. The third section of the paper dissects Moellerís claims to reveal how in her hand ëcompassion fatigueí is an empty signifier that becomes attached to a range of often contradictory explanations and factors.

David Campbell David’s full paper ‘The Myth of Compassion Fatigue’ can be accessed on his website, along with other papers on topics related to photography and its impact on society. Shortcut to the draft paper: David is also co-editor of the Imaging Famine website, a research project that details how famine has been represented in the media, from the nineteenth century to the present day. Its aim is to provoke a debate about the political effect of such images, particularly photographs, in our understanding of the majority world.

‘Mind Over Matter’, a science and art project supported by the Wellcome Trust People Award, demystifies what happens behind the doors of brain bank laboratories, and in so doing actively seeks to rehabilitate the practice of bodily donation in the public imagination. The ‘Mind Over Matter’ exhibition and book that concluded the three years of the authors’ work between 2008 - 2011, draws back the veil of secrecy that has historically surrounded the practice of bodily donation, to reveal the selfless generosity and courage of individuals who have elected to donate their brains after death for neuroscientific research. Drawing on themes of memory, forgetting, transience of the body, ageing, and brain donation, Ania Dabrowska worked with photography, installation, appropriated archival and medical photographs, video, and sound (in collaboration with the composer Gaetano Serra).

The limits of Moellerís text are exposed in the fourth section of the paper, which reviews all the available evidence of which I am aware relating to the relations between photographs, compassion and charitable responses. None of that evidence supports the compassion fatigue thesis.

Dr Bronwyn Parry and Ania Dabrowska were privileged to meet some of Britain’s oldest prospective brain donors from CC75C and CFAS studies in Cambridge, who agreed to be photographed and interviewed about their lives and involvement in brain research. For these donors death proves not to be the end of life for their brains, but rather a mere stopping off point in a journey that sees them travel out and beyond their bodily lives to the global research laboratories of the future.

While you will need to read the whole paper to consider all the arguments, one bit of data can be presented here. The dictionary definition of compassion fatigue cites the ìdiminishing public responseî to charity appeals as evidence. But is the public response diminishing? In Britain there are 166,000 charities that received donations totalling £10 billion in 2009. In the United States, there are more than 800,000 charitable organisations, and Americans gave them more than $300 billion in 2007. The British publicís response to disasters like the 2010 Haiti earthquake (for which the Disasters Emergency Committee raised £106 million) shows that the willingness to act on empathy for the victims of natural disasters is still considerable even when they are distant.

Mrs Ella Wiltshire 22.05.1908 – 22.02.2009

The DEC conducts consolidated appeals for the fourteen leading aid NGOs in the UK, and a look at their various appeals over the last few years shows that there is a constant willingness to donate, albeit at variable rates, from the 2009 Gaza appealsís £8.3 million to the massive £392 million given for the 2004 Tsunami appeal.

Born in Clapham Common, London, Ella was educated at home and loved history, in particular the Restoration because “they defied the Pope”. She moved to Cambridge after getting married to a handsome and passionate man, Samuel Keith Wiltshire. She thought his name sounded too religious, so she called him Richard. Richard died 50 years ago, but she still thought about him every day. She saw mutual respect and memory as the recipe for lasting love. She was a good cook; enjoyed sirloin, rib eye and crab the most. She loved modeling clothes. Her favourite memory was walking down the aisle. Her favourite age was about fifty, when she felt she had done the things she wanted to do. She proudly told us that for her 100th birthday she had enjoyed the entertainments of a male stripper.

There is, then, no absence of compassion as expressed in charitable giving. That, however, is not to say that all issues are responded to equally. There are clearly differential responses, but these do not add up to the generally diminished response named ëcompassion fatigueí. It is time to remove this myth as an obstacle to understanding how photographs of extreme situations can and do work. I hope you will read the paper and engage the argument. It is a draft, and there is much scope for improvement.

Mind over Matter - Ania Dabrowska Headrest, After I’m Gone series, 2011

“The brain is a very clever thing. I remember back; a hundred years is a long time.  You live as long as you are remembered, it is all mind over matter. Anything I can do, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.” 29 January 2009

Visual representation of organ donors is unprecedented in the UK and the project is groundbreaking in keeping these donors from anonymity. In reflecting on why bodily donation has always been a strictly anonymous activity, the authors explore what the ethical, psychological, religious and social implications are for donors, their families and researchers in re-negotiating the historical relationship between anonymity, objectivity and the impartiality of science. As some of the donors who participated in ‘Mind Over Matter’ have now passed away, the project provides a unique record of their philosophies on life, the relationship between memory and identity, death, donation and the ephemerality of the body.

Ania Dabrowska, b.1973, Poland, lives and works in London. Completed MA Photography at LCC, 2007. She works in a variety of media, using photography, video, and installations. She has exhibited in the UK and internationally since 2001. Fine Art/Photography lecturer and participatory photography projects facilitator (PhotoVoice, CAST, SPACE). SPACE Artist in residence at Arlington since 2010.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Ministry of Untold Stories: Visual Dialogues in Urban Landscapes, Athens

Refocus, Syria Refocus is a grassroots organisation that runs participatory photography courses for minority and marginalized groups. Courses teach basic technical photography skills whilst focusing on individual photographic creativity.

This installment of ‘Visual Dialogues’ is an investigation of the potential new imaginations and alternative representations in the city of Athens. Urban performances on the streets and on city walls (political street art) are documented as a means of remapping the fixed, fatalistic landscape of a European metropolis ‘in crisis’. Photography is used to capture everyday moments that tell the wider story of a city going soft. A city is a living organism consisting of the ‘hard city’ one can map through roads, buildings, public spaces and the ‘soft city’ of inhabitants, multiple belongings, and imagining desires. The process of softening the urban fabric is the extent to which the ‘soft city’ informs, interplays, and eventually remaps the ‘hard city’.

Founded in 2008 by Kate Denman and Amy Coppins, the first project trained Palestinian youth in camps across Syria, including Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. The projects used photography to allow the participants to creatively express their opinions regarding issues that affect them. These were presented to the local community and to delegates in Syria to try and create a participatory approach to change, regarding attitudes, policies and interventions. From 2009 to 2011 Refocus continued to work on projects in Syria and progressed to focus on equality, gender violence and the rights of the child. In the projects these issues were addressed through imagery and reinterpreted by the students who then created images to communicate with the local community and to present at regional UN conferences.

The use of photography becomes a way of exposing, exploring and excavating the Self in the city. This project seeks to engage with new participatory dialogues with photographers who want to develop conversations with their environments by taking photographs of events, spaces and marginal groups that generate questions about inclusion, space and politics. As such, we are seeking new contributions to our untold stories series from other cities.

Why adolescents in Syria? A key aim of the projects run by Refocus in collaboration with UNICEF was to advance issues of integration and social change through the expression of respect and rights through photography. The workshops included discussions dealing with a range of issues from identity to living without discrimination regardless of nationality or gender. Awareness was raised with regards to rights and participants developed an understanding of the equalities and inequalities within their lives.

The ‘Visual Dialogues’ form part of Ministry of Untold Stories’ artistic programme, which includes participatory workshops, theatre and critical writing.

Throughout the summer of 2009 and 2010 a mixedgender and nationality group of 18 Iraqi, Palestinian and Syrian young adults worked alongside each other to explore and document their environment in Damascus. They documented the world as they perceived and experienced it, looking at both their achievements and the struggles they were facing. They produced individual portfolios of work from which they selected images to be shown on the Refocus website and in a final exhibition. Through their own initiative and the support of Refocus and UNICEF, participants are continuing to develop their photographic skills. In 2011 Refocus teamed up with The British Council and 198 Gallery. 10 Refocus students from our previous projects travelled from Syria to work in London for a week with young adults in Brixton. The objectives were to develop solidarity and promote tolerance among young people whilst fostering mutual understanding between youth in different countries. Through a varied programme using photography, film, discussion and interaction with a professional visual artist the participants explored themes such as immigration and cultural diversity in a contemporary globalized world. Refocus are continuously looking for new avenues in which to open projects, whilst helping advance the skills and opportunities of previous participants. We are now based in Caracas, Venezuela and Bristol, UK. If you would like more information or have any suggestions please contact us.

Ministry of Untold Stories is an organization that widens debate and participation in the creation of intercultural dialogue through the creative and performing arts, at a local level, across the EU, and as an international powerhouse. The Ministry of Untold Stories is an NGO for marginal voices, hidden experiences, alternative cultures, and imaginary maps that form a new vision of society.

Photographer: Myrto Tsilimpounidi Image 1: ‘Family Protest’ Image 2: ‘Police Parody’

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Roma in Italy The first time I met a Roma community was in 1998 around Ponticelli, one of the more difficult suburbs of our city. In fact after 10 years angry residents broke into the gipsy camp armed with iron bars and threatened to burn it to the ground – which they did, throwing Molotov against the barracks just after the police had evacuated them. Since that first experience I wanted to meet the Roma community again and dreamt of exploring their world and daily life. By coincidence, I met a funny young boy selling colored roses. After a while the boy gave me his Mother’s telephone number…she spoke Italian very well! I had the opportunity to go inside a large camp in Naples. The boy’s Mother said to me “hey this is a gypsy camp! Are you sure you wanna come here?” And so I went to the camp and stayed there for more than 1 year, a deep experience that changed my life definitely. From the first moment in Secondigliano camp I started changing my entire life concept and decided to denounce the use of the power in my society. There are over 10 million Roma currently living in Europe. And although Roma have been living in Europe for about 800 years the absence of a national state has increased segregation and repression. My aim is to show their skills, their culture and help them to live better. In 2012 Roma communities are tolerated only under bypasses of highways or periphery shantytowns. For example, the Secondigliano camp (world of Vesna) is located behind a prison. I choose to work in black and white as I believe it is a language which communicates powerfully and holds our attention. I feel that black and white is honest and that it tells better than colour.

This work has been exhibited at: Museo di Santa Chiara and Istituto Italiano Studi Filosofici in Napoli, Galerie 52 in Paris, Istituto Italiano Cultura/Libreria Altrimenti in Luxembourg, Centro Cultural Rojas in Buenos Aires, Casa della Pace in Milano, Museo di Scienze Naturali in Torino and Underworld in Bucarest. For more information:

Shifting Perspectives Photography is often said to reflect society’s attitudes and opinions but it also serves as a powerful propaganda and campaigning tool. It remains supremely influential even in the cynical digital era that we inhabit and our perception of its link to the truth prevails. We live in an era where ‘image is everything’ and as such the power attributed to the photograph is immense and in many ways vitally important. It not only determines our perception of the appearance of the individual but also implies their personality and situation. Shifting Perspectives brings together the work of an ever-expanding group of photographers, all of whom have children (or relatives) with Down’s syndrome. When the photographers discovered that their babies had this genetic condition, they conjured up distant mental images of children and adults barely distinguishable from one another with pudding basin haircuts and short white socks on rare institutional outings. Photographs confirming this perception were to be found in old textbooks on the subject. These images were frightening and misleading and as each of the parents discovered, had little bearing on their actual experience. The work the ‘Shifting Perspectives’ group has accumulated examines the lives of the photographers and their families as they adapt to their new circumstances. They investigate their worlds as

questioning artists, aware of issues of representation and photographic genre, each with a very personal vision. In many ways the work reflects a contemporary trend in documentary photography where practitioners are no longer purely objective observers with little understanding of the complexity of the situation, they are personally involved with their subject matter. Outside of the areas of medical and charity based imagery there has been little serious photographic enquiry into this subject area. This work explores the photographic representation of people with Down’s syndrome, challenging attitudes and prejudices and examining alternative representations of both adults and children. But beyond the issues of Down’s syndrome itself, this project is particularly pertinent in an imagesaturated culture where the appearance of the individual holds such high currency. It asks us to question the society that we have created and how this is reflected in the narrowness of mainstream representations of those considered beautiful and valuable.

Susan Andrews Senior Lecturer in Photography London Metropolitan University

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Representations of Global Poverty: Aid, Development and International NGOs Nandita Dogra Foreword by Stanley Cohen Through the efforts of increasingly media-aware NGOs, people in the west are bombarded with images of poverty and suffering in the developing world. Representations of Global Poverty is the first comprehensive study of the communications and imagery used by international NGOs to represent the developing world. This meticulously researched and original book explores the discursive constructions of global poverty and development by international charities and their role in mediating between developed countries and the majority world. It presents a detailed empirical review of the communications of international NGOs, utilizing an original postcolonial analytical framework to better understand and evaluate these public messages. The book examines the full cycle of representation – integrating analyses of the public messages of international development NGOs in the UK with the views of their staff and audiences. This review of the fundraising and advocacy messages of UK-based international NGOs (INGOs) shows a dualism of ‘difference’ and ‘oneness’. While these messages portray the developing world as different and distant, they are also at pains to present it as sharing the same human values. These oversimplified representations circumvent the historical context of, and continuities between, European colonialism and current global poverty. Instead they connect the globe through a de-historicised universal humanism. This decontextualization in INGOs’ communications stems from both institutional isomorphism and sociological assumptions about audiences.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Simon Norfolk: Photographs from the War in Afghanistan The first ever photographs to be taken in Afghanistan were made by the Irish photographer John Burke (1843-1900). His eloquent images form an extraordinary record of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880), yet today he is virtually unknown. Simon Norfolk (b. 1963) recognised in Burke’s photographs a humane and critical eye for the British colonial project and in 2010 travelled to Afghanistan in order to follow in his footsteps. In what he terms a collaboration with his Victorian forerunner, Norfolk engaged in a kind of re-photography. Burke’s diverse photographic output included landscapes, battlefields, archaeological sites, street scenes, portraits of British officers and ethnological group portraits of Afghans. Rather than artificially restaging these compositions exactly, Norfolk identified contemporary equivalents, researching and travelling to Burke’s vantage points and developing a digital version of his wet plate technique. As the singular ‘War’ in the exhibition title implies, Norfolk’s project is in part an indictment of the unrelenting impact of conflict and imperialism on the landscape and people of Afghanistan over the past 130 years. The echoing images that result from his partnership with Burke highlight points of continuity and change from either side of the twentiethcentury in the war-ravaged country. Simon Norfolk was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1963. In 1994 he turned from photojournalism to landscape photography, publishing For Most of It I Have No Words 1998, a book about places that have witnessed genocide. In Afghanistan: Chronotopia 2001, he examined the layers of physical evidence left by thirty years of conflict in the country.

Nandita Dogra’s book reveals the role of western collective histories in shaping global inequalities and our subjectivities in the way we perceive and position ourselves in relation to the majority world. From historical amnesia to denial, charity to justice and rights, feel-good consumerism to activism, humanism and cosmopolitanism to Eurocentrism and Britishness, it analyses NGO representations through a variety of discourses. This book should become the starting point for future debates on representations and global poverty that concern not just aid organizations, NGOs, governments, media institutions, photographers and researchers but all of us who live in a deeply connected but divided world. Nandita Dogra is a postdoctoral fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. She holds an MSc. in NGO Management and a PhD in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and has extensive professional experience in development and social policy.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Life Through the Lens A participatory photography project in a boys’ orphanage in Rajasthan, India, 2011 Basti Ram

The red ribbon is a symbol against stigma, and the wristband represents strength. All the community must support to end HIV stigma. Photographer: Ady Mulyadi, Rumah Cemara, Indonesia

In the working environment, in the office, you mustn’t stigmatise against people living positively. Photographer: Dammylola Shodiya, Positive Outreach Foundation, Nigeria

Let the community to talk about their needs. The community is represented here by Ginan from Rumah Cemara, an Indonesian organisation, speaking at the ‘Football Fighting Back’ launch event. Photographer: Andoni Bello Lanestosa, TRI GAY Football Team and NGO, Mexico

Talking about stigma doesn’t always have to be so serious, just have fun. Photographer: Andoni Bello Lanestosa, TRI GAY Football Team and NGO, Mexico

Kick HIV Stigma Out

Interactive workshops The range of photography experience in the group varied from one person having had their photographs published to another having never picked up a camera before, so it was important that everyone contributed equally. Participants were each given a camera during the first workshop, and an introduction to the basic settings. The fully interactive sessions explored the potential uses and motivations of photography including, to tell a story and to powerfully convey advocacy messages. It also included practical exercises on captioning and composition, where each participant chose an object, subject or view to capture in five different ways.

Six people from Cameroon, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Ukraine took part in a participatory photography workshop in Brighton, September 2011. All participants are people who are tackling HIV at a community-level; raising awareness of HIV prevention and reducing stigma through sport. The participants were invited to use a camera to document their thoughts throughout the week, on levels of HIV awareness and stigma in their communities and how football can be a useful tool in their work. The workshop ran alongside the ‘Football Fighting Back’ event, co-hosted by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Albion in the Community, the charitable arm of Brighton and Hove Albion FC. The intensive week-long training was designed to help participants increase their skills to effectively use football to reach young people in their communities and help stop the spread of HIV. Globally, for every three people starting HIV treatment, five others are becoming infected. The numbers of people living with HIV will continue to grow unless we can prevent the spread of HIV. “Football is a unifying factor among young people and it is a good strategy to engage young people in HIV prevention activities,” said Dammylola Shodiya, a participant from the Positive Outreach Foundation in Nigeria.

Join the train, let’s advocate against stigma. Photographer: Dammylola Shodiya, Positive Outreach Foundation, Nigeria

Stigma is a construction without soul. Photographer: Yevgeniy Anychyn, Clubnyi Dom, Ukraine

The ‘Life Through the Lens’ projects give young people from developing countries the chance to show the world their lives in an honest and empowering way. Too often we are shown ‘poor’ people’s lives through the eyes of Western photographers who, however unintentionally, are biased towards what they see. By offering a new perspective the projects demonstrate that though living in deprived circumstances; young participants have strength and passion for their surroundings and their lives. The project images have been taken by boys from an orphanage in India and capture how they see their lives and interests and are enhanced with written observations. Seven photographers from the UK, travelled to India to deliver the project, which offered mentoring to 21 boys, aged 16 – 18. By mentoring the boys through the basics of photography, the self-funded UK photography volunteers who joined the project offered the foundations of a new skill set designed to provide a genuine alternative to the hazardous occupations in which many boys find themselves. With an alternative set of skills and a good command of the English language the boys began a journey to expand their opportunities to find alternative employment in the booming local tourist industry. The progress the boys made was phenomenal – they finished the project with a fantastic selection of images, which were celebrated in an exhibition event at the orphanage. One volunteer, Lucy Milson-Watkins captured her experience and the essence of the project on film.

The photos Everyone took home all of their photos, as well as each making an edit of 6 photos to exhibit online. These were grouped into two galleries:

In March 2012, Lucy’s film was shared with the boys. For them, the impact of seeing themselves on film was significant, empowering and inspirational, motivating them further to embrace the next stage of their photography course which is scheduled for August 2012, when they will be mentored by a group of Basti Ram photography volunteers from the US. The photographs displayed as part of the PICS festival are just a small selection of the images produced, but we hope give an honest impression of the boys’ lives – as they want to be seen. The ‘Life Through the Lens’ projects are organised by Basti Ram, a UK registered charity (1137644) that delivers educational programmes to underprivileged rural Indian communities. Basti Ram strives to help underprivileged communities realise their own potential and empowers ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

To read more about the ‘Life Through the Lens’ projects please visit The next UK ‘Life Through the Lens’ course runs in November 2012. For further information about how you can take part please visit Basti Ram would like to thank the volunteers who gave so much, to Lucy for capturing her experience on film and to the generous donors of old second hand digital cameras. To see more project images please visit: Lucy Milson-Watkins - Wayne Lennon - Rebecca Sanders - Jason Lovett - Joesphine Haines – www.josephinehainesphotography. com

Still developing… Each participant was asked if and how they’d use photography back at home. All six said that they would, including for documenting their work, fundraising purposes and in their communication materials. “It was an opportunity to sharpen my skills and improve my style of photography – and I found it particularly useful to think about giving powerful captions to pictures” Dammylola Shodiya. Albion in the Community and the Alliance are hoping that this will be the start of what will be an annual event; the 2012 event will take place in Kenya.

‘One goal’ expresses what the Football Fighting Back event meant to them and why it is important in relation to their community-based work tackling HIV. In ‘Kick HIV stigma out’ the photographers illustrate the community’s role in challenging and reducing HIVrelated stigma and the importance of working together, and their collective feelings of hope.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Shoot Nations Shoot Nations encourages young people to express their thoughts on global issues using the power of photography as a cross-cultural and language-free communication tool. The project encompasses a global photography competition and an international exhibition and workshop tour, including a presentation at the UN’s International Youth Day. This gives young people an influential and high profile platform to share their ideas and views and discuss the challenges they face. Shoot Nations has been produced to date for five consecutive years from 2006 - 2010, with over 3,700 young people entering the competition, uploading more than 6,200 photos from 104 different countries. More than 400 young people have taken part in Shoot Nations workshops and over 100,000 people visited exhibitions on four continents. The project is a joint partnership between Plan UK, Shoot Experience, supported by the United Nations International Youth Day.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

The Story of Meile and Sergei In January 2009 I met a lady who was representing the organization No Fixed Abode, an NGO which was founded 25 years ago by homeless people. The aim of this organization is to improve the living conditions of homeless people; “A chance to live independently belongs to everyone, homelessness should be considered as a lack of human rights.” Half a year after this encounter, I received a phone call from No Fixed Abode asking me to organize a documentary photography exhibition in Helsinki, Finland. The intention of the exhibition was to participate in the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. The key objective was to raise public awareness about homelessness. Instead of taking photographs of homelessness myself, I proposed to No Fixed Abode to find volunteers who have personal experiences of homelessness to share their thoughts and experiences and make them visible. It was my pleasure to work as a facilitator and after I started to run this project it became a part of my doctoral research ‘In the Picture – Photography as a Method of Participatory Projects’. We have had two major exhibitions, Breaking the Silence in the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, October 2010 and Breaking the Silence II in The Finnish Museum of Photography, October 2011. There are seven people who took part in the project. Through the project they have used photography to look at their own lives, at what homelessness as well as the shift from homelessness to having a home means to them. The project as a whole tells us about these people’s lives, how they survived, and the things that are meaningful to them. ‘The Story of Meile and Sergei’ is a success story of a couple’s life. They lived for years on the street together since 1998. They met in the Night Café Kalkkers (in Helsinki, Finland) and started to wander together. In 2009 they got a flat in the supported housing unit. For the first exhibition they took photographs of places from the time of their homelessness. Then one week before the opening of the first exhibition they got a tworoom apartment to rent and started to document their home. For the second exhibition they made a series of photographs of past and present which was ‘The Story of Meile and Sergei’.

Photographs by Meile Pentikäinen and Sergei Sadejeff Text translations by Raija Maunuksela and Liisa Söderlund

Above: Ali, Pakistan Right: Barbara, Portugal

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Rights! Cameras! Action!

Halton’s Photo Voices

Engaging and informing young people around children’s rights through photography PhotoVoice’s, in partnership with Action for Children, has focused on engaging young people in exploring and discussing the role of children’s rights in their lives through photography. The Rights! Cameras! Action! project involved young people from various demographics across the UK in workshops that supported them to represent children’s rights through their photographs, and to discuss each others’ photos to understand better how young people from different backgrounds might experience different priorities. The resulting online multimedia resource – www. – provides a wealth of stimulating photographic content focusing on each of the first 42 articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. A booklet summarising and illustrating these articles has also been produced to signpost this website and to act as a classroom resource with young people. A section of the website provides suggestions for how teachers and youth workers can use the online content and downloadable resources to engage their young people around children’s rights. There are also exercises and lesson plans that involve the young people taking their own photographs, for those with the resources to work with digital cameras.

Halton’s Photo Voices is a participant lead, person centred, participatory photography project that examines Transition from the point of view of Special Educational Needs (SEN) students from Widnes and Runcorn in the North West of England. Following an initial project in February 2011, workshop facilitator Adam Lee will work with over one hundred participants from across the region on eleven different projects, investigating young peoples’ hopes, fears, expectations and experiences of moving through the educational system and beyond.

Halton Borough Council is a leader in SEN services nationwide, and is committed to improving the services their young people receive, based on their observations. As such, they are keen to use the participatory methodology to improve self-confidence in their students, teach them new skills and give young disabled people in the region their own voice.

This project is linked to the Right Year for Children – a year of campaigns and events promoting children’s rights to mark the 20th anniversary of the UK ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Right Year involves a coalition of children’s organisations, and culminates in December 2012.

For details of the campaign and upcoming events visit

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Sensory Photography – Photography Without Sight matt daw As projects manager for PhotoVoice I have seen how versatile photography can be as a tool to help create opportunities for self expression and communication in a variety of contexts and with people affected by a huge variety of practical, social and political barriers. Our courses often produce work that challenges expectations, preconceptions or prejudices in those whom the photographs are aimed at affecting, and the process of creating the work can be a challenging journey for the participants, who may never have spoken out and tried to take an active role in changing the status quo. Among the projects that stimulate the strongest reaction in audiences and in those I communicate our work to, however, are those in which we train blind and partially sighted people to use - and experience - photography. Since 2008 PhotoVoice has run workshops in photography with blind and partially sighted people in the UK, China and Mexico, working in partnership with Ojos que Sienten A.C / Sight of Emotion – (OQS) a Mexican organisation dedicated to enabling and promoting photography and employment opportunities for the blind and partially sighted.

PVSUP006 By the Sea, Hastings © Violet McQueen / Sight of Emotion / OBAC / PhotoVoice “Looking at the sensory aspects of this picture, I am feeling the sensation of the sand and pebble stones under my feet. Listening to the sound of the waves coming in, the colourful reflections of the sea and, the children interacting, far off.“

The first project delivered through this partnership was Beyond Sight – a series of workshops run in South London for blind and partially sighted people from various walks of life. Within the group of nine people who signed up for this pilot project there were very different reasons for wanting to take part, and varying expectations of what they would be able to achieve. Bill, who has been blind from birth, relished the opportunity to find a new creative outlet and a way to communicate his thoughts, feelings and experiences to others. Photography for him naturally joins poetry and sculpture as ways he can share his unique perspective on life, and before long he was capturing unusual and engaging photos that gave an insight into the details that stand out for him as he navigates the world through touch and sound. Some other participants had lost their sight, or were in the process of losing it, and came warily to the first workshop to discover if there was a way that they could rediscover the pleasure and satisfaction of creating and sharing photographs. Some hoped for technical guidance and tips for adaptive technologies that would overcome the barriers they now encountered,

while others were cynical but curious as to how they could use photography at all. All participants were asked to drop any preconceptions and expectations, and start from scratch to learn a new and very different way to use a camera. Over a course of 10 workshops led by OQS founder Gina Badenoch, the group gained confidence and expertise, and generated photographs that were then exhibited at the prestigious Association of Photographers Gallery in East London. The exhibition was made accessible through the inclusion of an audio trail with captions and descriptions for all the photographs in the exhibition on MP3 players, and tactile raised versions of some of the participants’ photographs, and of 10 professional photographs included to demonstrate how all photography can be made accessible to all. For visitors, the quality of the photographs as well as the uniqueness of the experience proved affecting, and for the participants a new method and space for communication and expression was discovered. Initial reactions to the idea of blind people wielding cameras often range from confusion or disbelief to amusement or derision. To many, the idea seems counter-intuitive and paradoxical. It does not usually take much, however, to change this perception. The instinct is to pigeonhole photography purely as a visual art form, and the sightless as being unable to create or enjoy it because of their condition. To make this assumption is to ignore key facts about photography and the way it is used and enjoyed by most people. Although most people would prefer the photographs they take to be aesthetically pleasing and technically good as opposed to amateurish snaps, the purpose behind taking and reviewing photographs goes far beyond the creation of pleasing visual art. Taking a photograph records a fleeting moment in time, allowing the experience or discovery to be shared, discussed, analysed and celebrated. The sharing of photos through albums, email, social networking sites and mobile phones is something many people take for granted, despite the fact that they would not describe themselves as ‘photographers’. Photographs forge connections between people, even over distance, acting as a focus for discussion and a prompt for positive reminiscing. Being denied access to this method of communication can be isolating, and can compound feelings of powerlessness. There is no real substitute for the instantaneity of a photograph to play this role, and someone who is blind or partially sighted has just as many meaningful and important experiences throughout their day that are worthy of being recorded and shared. Discovering how those moments were experienced in different ways to those we are used to adds another layer of intriguing meaning to the photos from these projects. So how does ‘sensory photography’ work? At its simplest level, it is the creation, and experiencing, of photography through senses other than sight. The participants are encouraged to put sight to one side even if they are not fully blind, as the techniques make use of the other senses and completely avoid any reliance on the eyes. This means that a better level of sight does not represent an advantage in successfully and enjoyably practising sensory photography, and

also that even fully sighted people can use the same techniques and exercises and find themselves exploring their subjects in new ways and capturing new and interesting perspectives through their photographs. The idea is not to find a way to overcome the barrier of visual impairment and take photographs despite those limitations, but to explore a methodology for which a lack of sight is no disadvantage at all. Anyone attending a course is introduced to a digital camera that has been slightly adapted with tactile stickers that make navigating the controls easier. After gaining confidence in operating the camera and being sure that they can make it do what they want, participants are encouraged to experiment with them while exploring their environment with the other senses. Details of particular meaning or interest are picked out by touch, sound and smell, and captured with the camera. Reviewing the photographs soon afterwards and hearing exactly what they captured allows the techniques to be adapted until each participant can find whatever or whoever they want to immortalise, and also choose how they frame them and understand how this can affect the meaning and impact of the final photograph on its audience. Blind and partially sighted people often find that they take particularly strong portraits, as the photograph is taken through a process of engagement and dialogue between photographer and subject that leads to a more natural and personal side of the subject being captured.

why photography is so popular and powerful a medium for professionals and amateurs alike. The exact composition of photographs and the shapes of its subjects can also be conveyed through touch – either by someone assisting the photographer or any other blind person in mapping a print or on-screen photo with their fingertips to help build up a mental picture, or by printing tactile relief diagrams of photos on swell paper (sometimes called microcapsule paper). Tactile diagrams are black and white line versions of the photograph printed onto paper that swells when heated, and when run through a heater the black versions heat quicker and become raised. Such tactile aids require explanation and guidance to be meaningfully accessed, but then provide a lasting reference which can be valuable.

session was so intrigued and impressed by the process that he opted to stay on and volunteer to help with the whole course of workshops. The Director of One-PlusOne even left his own work on hold to cover the workload of participants so that they could carry on with the training. He observed; “I have seen the changes among our colleagues during the workshop. They’ve become more confident and like to express themselves more… it is a great way for us to communicate with mainstream society. We’ve gained a lot of attention from the activity and can use it as a way to change other people’s opinions about disabled people… Photography is just one method to express ourselves and, like everybody else, we have the ability to feel the beauty and joy of life. It is not about photographing what we can see, it’s more about capturing what we feel in our hearts.” Xie Yan (Director of One-Plus-One, China). Press interest locally and nationally was unprecedented, providing a rare and valuable opportunity for disability rights discussion in the mainstream media, while also allowing the photographers to share their fantastic photographs with a wide audience. When the Chinese participants made their experience the subject of their weekly radio broadcast, it inspired so much interest that they received more than 200 phone calls from listeners, and record listener figures. The group were asked to exhibit photographs at the Beijing Art Fair 2009, where thousands of Chinese and international art lovers were introduced to their work and the concept of sensory photography.

PVSU_045 Self-portrait with flowers © Althea / Sight of Emotion / PhotoVoice Before this project I never took any notice of flowers, I never went near them. But since this project I have come to like flowers for what they represent. Flowers express the happy things, the colours represent how happy people can be, like myself. Thatís how I see this project - when I first started it I was closed like a flower. Iíve learnt a lot, you donít have to see to capture a very good picture of who you are. I have blossomed, just like a flower. It’s like a change, the way flowers as a seed grow little by little, thatís almost how I see myself in this project. Iíve opened up to see, without having any sight. PVSU_005 © Gary Waite / Sight of Emotion / PhotoVoice Mickel versus Gary: clash of the canes in ruskin park

The other side of the methodology is the experiencing of the photographs without sight. This can be achieved in a number of ways, although partially sighted people who use sensory photography techniques to take photos can sometimes see enough to review their photos on the computer at high magnification, or with the help of enlarged prints. Fully blind or seriously partially sighted photographers share their photographs with someone sighted - perhaps someone they wanted to share the work with anyway – and can hear from them exactly what the photograph contains and what it says to the viewer coming to it without having had the experience of the moment the photograph was taken. Sometimes details the photographer was not aware of at the time are revealed and new depths of the experience unlocked. Sometimes the resulting discussion or explanation opens up a dialogue about the way that they experience the world or how they feel about certain things that would otherwise not have taken place without an external point of comparison. This is, after all,

Between June 2009 and January 2010 PhotoVoice and OQS built upon the success and learning from the Beyond Sight project to expand the use of sensory photography outside Mexico and the UK. Sights Unseen, a project funded by Pfizer, Schroders and Greater London Fund for the Blind, aimed to free the concept of photography by blind and partially sighted people from association with any particular cultural or social context. While a second course of workshops took place in South London – this time with the African Caribbean community through the Organisation of Blind Africans and Caribbeans (OBAC) – two PhotoVoice facilitators travelled to Beijing to run a set of sensory photography workshops with blind staff members of disability media charity One-Plus-One. Having been warned to prepare for cynical attitudes to any project countering the prevalent view of disability being debilitating and limiting, we were extremely heartened by the enthusiastic reception received by the project in China. The participants, who were already confident spokespeople ready to confound expectations and confront prejudices as they do weekly in their internet radio show, launched into the new experience with gusto. A journalist who came to document the first

Some participants went further and undertook personal advocacy projects aimed at addressing issues important to them. Gary Waite, one fully blind participant living in Lambeth, decided to use his new skills to document the obstacles and barriers he faces daily while trying to negotiate the streets in his local area, using the photos to raise awareness amongst local residents and shopkeepers of the problems faced by him and other people with sensory and mobility disabilities, and to encourage everyone to take responsibility for keeping pavements clear and safe. Gary states that on his journey he comes across, in his words, “temporary situations that are permanent problems.” Gary’s aim is to increase sensitivity to the need for clear and well maintained pavements, locally and in wider society, by capturing the causes of problems he encounters that are so often overlooked by those who can easily avoid them. Since Gary photographed a car that was often parked across the pavement near his house, and placed a photo on the windshield with an explanation of the problems it caused him, the neighbour has parked only on the road. Other advocacy projects being undertaken by blind and partially sighted photographers trained through the Sights Unseen Project include a book by Vanessa Callendar, Seeing Red (available from uk), demonstrating the difficulties faced by partially sighted people trying to use the bus network in London and calling for improvements, and a campaign aimed at increasing the standard of diversions and barriers around temporary roadworks. Sights Unseen ended with another accessible exhibition at the AOP Gallery in East London, but for the participants and the organisations involved photography remains an important and versatile tool with which much can be achieved for communication, advocacy, self-expression and pure enjoyment. “I was happy and excited about taking pictures, but also scared. Normal sighted people don’t believe that non-sighted people can take pictures, so I was scared of it not coming out. At that point I wasn’t convinced that blind people can take pictures. Now I am convinced that I can.” (Althea, UK)

PVSUC035 © Li Ning / Sight of Emotion / PhotoVoice All girls like to look at themselves in the morror, but I have never been able to do this. When I touched ther rear view mirror of this car and felt the cool shade of the surrounding trees, I really wanted to use my camera to record the reflected image.

For more information and practical guidance about Sensory Photography, see PhotoVoice’s free online methodology guide: methodology4sp/

In Beijing, the participants of the course are now introducing new blind and partially sighted people to sensory photography through workshops run for students of the blind department at the Beijing University. The more it is practised, the more the idea of blind and partially sighted people taking part in the ever-growing photographic dialogue in modern society will seem less a novelty, and more a natural component of that forum. Participants from the UK workshops at OBAC went on to create an awareness raising campaign targeted at the Afro- Caribbean population in South London highlighting the importance of regular eye-tests for members of a demographic at-risk from conditions that lead to preventable sigh-loss such as glaucoma.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Where the Devil Won’t Go When approaching the Myatts Field estate from Brixton Road you will find an abandoned trailer with the letters “GAS” graffitied across it in black. If you were in any doubt about whose territory you are stepping into before, this landmark serves as a clear reminder.

Fish Trader This woman is a business woman dealing with fish. She buys from the landing site – cheaply at the wholesale price, and then takes it to the trading centre to earn a living as a daily business. These fresh water fish are netted from Lake Bisina in Ngora. They are Tilapia and Cat Fish, and are so delicious and very much cherished in Uganda Africa. Words Sam Omoding © Wales Africa Links, Dolen FFermio, Sam Omoding, 2010

GAS gang are close affiliates of the notorious OC gang based around the Myatts Field estate, an estate that is known as ‘Baghdad’ by the locals. Armed police officers are not an unfamiliar sight around the estate and closed circuit television cameras survey the area from high vantage points protected by spikes and anti-climb paint. This is an area that, according to one reporter, not even the devil would venture. While the government, local authorities and the judicial system search for ways to stem the tide of gang-related crime, violence and death, the media whips up moral panic with tales and statistics. However, there are some who have found an escape route. Hidden between the stairwells and sirens are former gang members living lives under very different circumstances. They have turned their backs on the lifestyles they used to live, forsaking crime, violence and their formidable reputations for new lives as devout Christians. ‘Where the Devil Won’t Go’ presents the stories of three former gang members, and in their own words they explain why they got in and how they got out.

Drinking Millet Brew This photograph is how some communities like the Iteso of Mukongoro spend their leisure time by drinking local brew made out of millet. Each individual has a long straw locally called ‘Epii’ to suck the brew. Words by John Calvin Etuko © Wales Africa Links, Dolen Ffermio, Eseza Aumo, 2010

Ugandan Photo Diaries Cordelia Weedon Working in London for the best part of a decade running photography projects with people on the margins of society, mainly through the organisation Photoworks Westminster, gave me a real insight into how participatory photography can have a positive impact on people’s lives, whatever their age and background. So when my London job finished, it was an opportunity to use my experience to do something through a small Welsh charity working in Uganda, that I’d supported for several years. Around this time the Welsh Assembly had just started funding community links between Wales and Africa, and so we worked towards initiating educational connections, using photography to set up long-term links between schools in Wales and the north-eastern Ugandan district of Kumi. A dry arid area, it had been badly affected by insurgencies from the Congolese Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), devastating the local communities. Dolen Ffermio (Farming Links) is a small charity run by volunteers. It has been working in Uganda for 20 years in partnership with Ugandan Community Based

Organisations (CBOs), to improve livestock and farming methods and helping to combat malnutrition. A big part of its work is supporting orphans to stay within extended families in their local communities, whilst encouraging them to become self sufficient through gifts of livestock and trees. CREATE (Centre for Education & Appropriate Training for Everyone) one of the Ugandan CBOs managing the Kumi Orphan’s Project helped me set up the Photo Diaries Project in local schools in 2009. Over two visits I worked in three schools, one primary and two secondary, running several workshops in each school teaching photography skills to groups of around 14 participants. The young people had not used cameras before, however, they responded enthusiastically, gaining confidence during the project to speak about the challenges they encounter, and also showing how people are coping with rebuilding their communities. Their Photo Diaries have not only informed their peer group in Welsh schools, initiating exchanges and long term friendships between schools in both countries; they are also exhibited and are changing the public’s perceptions and hopefully that of policy makers.

environmental partnership projects, and as it expands more photographs are needed of the challenging issues and possible solutions affecting much of Sub Saharan Africa. People I have worked with are often the subjects for other photographers, however through having the opportunity to learn how to use cameras themselves, they can show others their concerns from a different perspective. So in the future I hope to be able to build on the work we have been doing, and get funding to do additional training to include school leavers, teachers and community workers from local CBOs, so they can continue to have a voice and document the challenges they face. This could enable them to photograph some of the charity’s partnership projects, and also open up possibilities of extra income through local photographic jobs.

Dolen Ffermio’s work has been expanding over the last few years to incorporate more educational and

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society


Eyes of Youth, Albania PhotoVoice

Fotosynthesis is a community project founded by a group of professional photographers and community workers, who believe in the social utility of creative practices. Fotosynthesis aims to give a voice to marginalised people and challenge prejudices.

Community engagement through photography by young people In 2011 PhotoVoice partnered with World Vision to use photography to engage members of three communities in Kurbin, a deprived area of Albania, in exploring, highlighting and discussing potential solutions to a range of social issues affecting the local population. PhotoVoice facilitators ran courses of 10 workshops with groups of children in each community, teaching them to use digital cameras and supporting them to explore issues affecting the community. Alongside photography skills they were introduced to concepts of ethical representation, model consent, parental permission for children under 18 and other important considerations for a responsible photojournalist. As a group they discussed the images each young person produced, helping to build a picture of the state of the community in reference to three key areas – child protection, education and economic development. At the end of the course, the work produced and captioned by the young people was exhibited in each community, and formed the basis for ‘community engagement days’ that encouraged debate and feedback from all those who attended. The involvement of a number of young people from the community ensured there was interest in attending and the representation from each community was broad. A book has been produced showcasing the work for dissemination amongst the communities involved and throughout Albania. This will ensure that the process of open dialogue about the root causes and potential solutions to the issues highlighted can continue, and reach even those who did not attend the exhibitions. A short film showing the project process is to be used by World Vision as a training tool and as a case study of a project engaging a wider community through photography.

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Fotosynthesis runs a studio space and a darkroom in South London, where people from disadvantaged backgrounds can access training in traditional black and white, digital and alternative photography. It delivers private classes to support its community projects and Arts Awards, an accredited qualification for young people aged 11-25. Fotosynthesis also organises seminars to support the work of emerging artists, inspire the community and encourage social cohesion. Fotosynthesis is committed to social and cultural integration by deepening public awareness. It provides a safe space where participants from various backgrounds can develop new skills and explore their creative

potential. It offers leadership and community building opportunities including mentoring, work placement and volunteering. Fotosynthesis uses participatory methods in order to provide a supportive and inclusive environment where participants can engage with each other in a friendly, self-initiated and stimulating way. Since its inception, Fotosynthesis has worked in partnership with a variety of organisations, such as PhotoVoice, RefugeeYouth, Children Society, Sight of Emotion, Ethereld Children Centre, New Generation, Creative Sparkworks, Positive Futures and Indoamerican Refugee and Migrant Organisation. Fotosynthesis is currently organising a photography workshop with a group of Photovoice participants. During the 2012 Paralympic games it will also run a Pop Up Studio where visually impaired and sighted people will explore new ways of engaging with photography and with each other.

The following photographs result from various Fotosynthesis workshops: Exploring Surrounding- a 12-week project with a group of young people and single parents, who came from all over London to explore their creativity and learn about digital, black and white photography and darkroom printing. The project encouraged them to discover what their surroundings means to them. Awards for All and Grassroot Grant funded this project in 2010. Refuge in Films 2011: A film festival curated by a group of young refugees, who produce their own films and organised the event. The project aims to raise awareness of the representation of refugees and migrant’s issues. It has been running since 2007, in partnership with Fotosynthesis, Refugee Youth and World Remix and it takes place at the British Film Institute.

PV076CP031 © Guenda Preci 2011 / World Vision / PhotoVoice Roma girl mining for fragments of copper at former copper works.

PV076ED002 © Aleksis 2011 / World Vision / PhotoVoice They are destroying the legacy of communism .As those memories are forgotten, the European Albania is waiting for us.

“You can tell more with a photo than words can ever express. A photo speaks to your heart and in my opinion it is the best way to advocate. Through my photos I want to transmit the message that the children in my community need to be cared for. Many of these children have to work to support their families, who live in poverty. They also don’t have safe and clean environments where they can play and just be children.” Xhentila, 18 “All of the three themes that we have explored to make a child’s life better are related. Because of low economic status of their family, children have to work to support their families, while their basic rights of education and enjoying their childhood are violated. Not only that, but these children risk a lot while working, even their lives when they work in the street.” Rudina, 17 “The way that this project has changed me in indescribable. I am more sensitive to the children’s problems. I would like to make a change, but alone I can never do it. If we all try to change these children’s world, we could make their wishes a reality. If all of us participants of this project talked to our parents and community about what we learned, we can bring some change and advocate in a small scale. We want to tell our peers during the school year about this.” Sonila, 17

By Diana Garcia Hand made black & white print from digital negative ‘My Grand Mother’ “These photographs are part of a research into the roots of my family. Where, when and why were my main concerns? All these reasons open and unfold a box of answers that were hidden away from me for many years. This series of photographs show three members of my family, who migrated from Colombia in search of a better future. Their lives have a similar background, which seems to repeat in consecutive generation.”

By JJ ‘Why I wrote a story for this picture? Because I wanted to tell people how I feel.’ “My name is JJ and I come from Afghanistan. I came to the UK in September 2008. This is a portrait of me. Once I was very depressed and disappointed. I found that this country is very difficult for those people who don’t have family here. I went out for a walk and reached London Bridge; I started thinking about my family and how no one could help to make me feel better. In my country I have two options: to have a good life in my house or to die. I came here to enjoy my life and to have a better life, but things got worse. I feel like I don’t have any options. The Home Office and social services control me; I feel like I’m in a cage. I can neither die nor have a life.

By Zaneta Szelazek Hand made black & white print “London is a one of the most multicultural city in the world. There is a mix of different religions, ethnics, music, food and ways of living. Many people come to London from their homeland because it can be hard to get by in poor countries. The person in the photograph is Laima, a 40 years woman from Lithuanian. She came here after her Company in Lithuania announces bankruptcy; her friend helped her to find a job and a room. Laima has been here for one year and a half and loves it “too much” as she says; she has a well-paid job, a lot of friends and a good life. Laima is expecting a baby in 6 months.”

I asked one person to take a picture of me to remember how difficult that day was for me.”

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Lookout UK PhotoVoice Young people join the debate around gangs and knife crime The Lookout project, which started in 2011 with Lookout London, provides young people (under 25) with the opportunity, the skills and the support to feed their perspectives into the debate on gangs and knife crime issues through photography. The aim is to amplify the voices of young people in the discussion about the causes of and potential solutions to gang and knife crime issues, encourage other young people to speak out, and to encourage the media and public to consider their voices to be relevant and important in the debate. By encouraging young people to speak openly about issues that affect them, the Lookout project aims to combat the isolation and anxiety that many young people face when they feel at risk of gang violence or under pressure to participate in youth crime. The debate around these issues is too often held over the heads of those most affected, and those who hold the key to improving the situation – young people themselves. Photos and messages by young people – around the issues of gang and knife crime but not tied

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

to a campaign message about the dangers or potential penalties associated with joining a gang – have been disseminated widely throughout London. Posters were distributed in newsagents, council estates and on digital advertising screens around key London boroughs in 2011, and a travelling exhibition is touring London secondary schools and libraries still. This project is about to develop into a nationwide project, with more workshops in London but also workshops in Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and possibly other cities around the UK. We are planning high profile campaign and media outputs designed by the young people themselves, and aimed at reaching and engaging young people while at the same time providing a platform for young people to become spokespeople for these issues in the media and politics. Youth-led conferences on these subjects will be held as part of the project in Liverpool and London in 2013. For more information about this project visit www.

For more information about this project visit www.

Out of Context Mission: To raise awareness of mental health and to help lift the stigma associated with it . Out Of Context is an International Anti-Stigma photography campaign founded by Lorraine Goddard and set up as a not-for-profit social enterprise. A campaign featuring people in the public eye doing things that make them happy, raising positive awareness of mental health. The exhibition debuted at Getty Images Gallery in London 2010, featuring photographs of Christian Slater, Minnie Driver, Dita Von Teese and Sir Richard Branson to name a few. Having witnessed manic depression first hand with her former husband, musician Adam Ant, it has become a life mission for Lorraine to increase emotional support and understanding not only for the sufferers but also those around them. Many celebrities are seen as role models and are an inspiration to children and young people. It is Lorraine’s aim to use the images to give children and young people the courage to get help if needed and to connect with others. By helping to lift the stigma Lorraine also hopes to make it easier for friends to support their friends, removing some of the fear involved. Lorraine Goddard is a photographer with an extensive background in PR in the fashion and music industries. Lorraine is also a patron of Young Minds, ambassador of PhotoVoice, founder of Out Of Context and blogger at

PV073LLH009 © Angelika Stolarz 2011 / Chapter 1 / PhotoVoice We believe that the way to feel protected is through putting bars between each other. Maybe there was no danger in the first place.

Top Left: Lily Adam Top Right: Catherine Tate Right: Sophie Dahl

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Street Photography My name is Laura Fitzpatrick and I have been taking photos on and off over the past ten years. However I only really became interested in trying out street photography after seeing the London Street Photography exhibition at the Museum of London and also going to talks and workshops which were part of the first London Street Photography Festival (LSPF) in 2011.  One of the main reasons why I love street photography is because it captures a moment in time that informs you about how people go about in their every day lives. These images are normally taken in large cosmopolitan cities but street photography can be captured anywhere from big towns to a small suburbs. Street photography for me is an art form that everyone all around the world can enjoy being part of, learn from and appreciate. The images which I have chosen to show re a good range of the different types of Street Photography I produce. The photograph ‘Order out of chaos’ was taken at Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square at one of the LSPF workshops. This photograph looks like it could have been staged but it is just made up of good geometry and great timing. It was created by observing the crowds on all four sides and then just waiting for the right moment. I feel this image really captures the great mix of different people that live, work and visit this great capital city. 

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Street Photography - the beauty of the everyday Street photography is an unbroken tradition, stretching back to the invention of photography itself. It revels in the poetic possibilities that an inquisitive mind and a camera can conjure out of everyday life. In their spontaneous and often subconscious reaction to the fecundity of public life, street photographers elevate the commonplace and familiar into something mythical and even heroic. They thrive on the unexpected, seeing the street as a theatre of endless possibilities, the cast list never fixed until the shutter is pressed. They stare, they pry, they listen and they eavesdrop, and in doing so they hold up a mirror to the kind of societies we are making for ourselves. At a time when fewer and fewer of the images we see are honest representations of real life, their work is more vital than ever. A great street photograph may only show us a hundredth of a second of real life, but in a single frame it can distil a remarkable amount of truth, showing the everyday with such wit or honesty that it will time and again amaze, delight or move us. ëThis is, for me, the most fascinating aspect of street photography,í says British photographer Nick Turpin, ëthe fact that these crazy, unreal images were all made in the most everyday and real locations. Friends who I met for lunch would just be back from the war in Bosnia and I would declare proudly that I was just back from the sales on Oxford Street.í

A great street photograph must elicit more than a quick glance and moment of recognition from the viewer. A sense of mystery and intrigue should remain, and what is withheld is often as important as what is revealed. The Flickr group Hardcore Street Photography, known for its ruthless rejection of much of the work submitted to it, demands the following of photographers: ëGive us a reason to remember the photograph.í Itís the right question to ask but almost impossible to answer. As the great French street photographer Robert Doisneau commented: ëIf I knew how to take a good photograph, Iíd do it every time.í Technical virtuosity, original composition and compelling content are all essential, even if they do not necessarily guarantee a great street photograph. Of the three, the question of what makes compelling content is probably the most contentious. Street photography is a form of documentary but it is decidedly not reportage and rarely simply tells a story. Sometimes a street photographer captures something truly unusual ñ an extraordinary face, an accident, or a crime in the making. But more often a good street photograph is remarkable because it makes something very ordinary seem extraordinary. With the rise of the internet for popular use, as well as a revolution in digital SLR technology in the early 2000s, street photography has undergone a resurgence. Today, the worldís most popular photo-sharing site, Flickr, hosts over 400 dedicated street photography groups comprising nearly half a million members. The photographer-run website In-Public, which calls itself the ëhome of street photographyí, clocks up

40,000ñ100,000 hits a month. Universities and museums now offer courses in the history and practice of street photography, and increasing interest in citizen photojournalism has opened new online editorial opportunities for street photographers to display their work. Most importantly, the international reach of the practice has exploded as young photographers find inspiration in the cities of the developing world and the southern hemisphere. As soon as a good body of work is produced, whether in New York or Tashkent, a slideshow quickly circulates on the blog sites, bringing instant feedback for the hungry young photographer, sometimes only hours after a particular picture was taken. These are exciting times for street photography. As Joel Meyerowitz has put it: ëThe seed is spreading like a virus out there.í Talented photographers ñ many featured in this book ñ are finding a burgeoning audience who appreciate the authenticity, rigour and playfulness of their work. The world remains a fascinating and eversurprising source of human drama and the curious instincts that Walker Evans championed when he exhorted his fellow photographers to stare, pry, listen and eavesdrop are felt as keenly today as ever.

© Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren This text is an extract from the first chapter of Street Photography Now by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren, Thames and Hudson, 2010. The book is available to purchase from

‘Eating on the tube’ is from my Tube Life set, which is about exploring how people interact with each other, or in some cases do not in small enclosed public spaces. In this image the woman feels very much at home on the tube digging into her smelly fish and chips, whereas the man beside her doesn’t look so comfortable with this woman’s eating habits in this small enclosed public space they are both sharing. ‘Dinner time’ is from my Reflections project. Using different reflective street surfaces allows me to view the street in a different way. These reflective surfaces make the average person walking the street become more interesting as they become entwined with the everyday man-made objects around them.  The quote below for me really sums up what Street Photography is all about. “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

UNCERTAIN STATES Presents - PICS 2012 Photographic Images Changing Society

Whose Voice? The dangers of romanticizing Participatory Photography as a tool for change Tiffany Fairey Those of us who are passionate about photography have felt its impact on our own lives. It follows then that we have a deep-seated belief in its power and potential to transform and change. Participatory photography offers unique possibilities for those disillusioned by the ‘false hope’ of humanitarian photography (Sliwinski 2004). A way of working with photography without adding to the ‘iconography of anonymous victimhood’ (Campbell 2003). A way of enabling new stories to be told, different voices to be heard and of supporting people to frame the world on their own terms. It promises change not just through the images acting as catalysts on the audiences but also through the impact on the participants engaged in picture making. Participatory photography aspires to ‘empower’, to transform lives and improve conditions. But when it talks of ‘giving voice’ we often fail to question what this actually means; A voice to say what? A voice to do what? A voice to achieve what ends?

Yamuna’s Daughters Yamuna’s Daughters is a participatory photography project by Women for Sustainable Cities. Our volunteers are working with young women living in the urban riverside village of Belagaon in the heart of New Delhi, India’s capital city and one of the world’s largest megacities. Belagaon is a small community of about 100 families. A number of families have long been involved in riverbed farming, some of them for generations. Others joining the colony are recent rural migrants whose first point of arrival in Delhi is often the nearby Old Delhi Railway Station. The young women (13-16 years old) have now been working with digital photography for an entire year cycle, through the summer heat, the cloud bursts of the monsoon, harvest time, and a cold and foggy Delhi winter. They have created a unique visual documentary and many stories about their lives in one of New Delhi’s most marginalised communities. They have also used images to express their views and dreams, and to share their ideas for river conservation and a green and socially inclusive future.

Water is life and many of their photographs are about the struggle for clean water the community faces every day. The river Yamuna is the lifeline of Delhi, but it is dying from industrial pollution and untreated sewage. It is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Toxic metals carried by the river water have even polluted the groundwater and soil. These toxins have entered the human food chain through vegetables grown in the floodplain, and the contamination also directly affects the people living close to Yamuna. Many questions may arise in one’s mind when encountering the Belagaon colony’s vulnerable existence. How might liveable and productive urban villages co-exist with a megacity? Can we imagine a new symbiosis between the river, the rural and the urban? What might the role of urban agriculture be in future? Will the Yamuna and floodplain assume a new importance for the food security of Delhi in a changing climate? The participatory Yamuna’s Daughters project seeks to give voice to marginalised young women whose futures in the mega-city hang in a precarious balance. It aims to build new relationships across social divides - between the photographers, the subjects of the photographs, and those who see the work. Together with a lively presence

on the internet showcasing the girls’ work, we organise events and exhibitions in Delhi to create new social spaces for interaction and dialogue. Last November, we put on an exhibition and ecophotography workshop at Belagaon which was an official part of a public art project about Yamuna under the “Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities” initiative. At this event, students from one of the most prestigious high schools in Delhi came to Belagaon to see the girls’ photographs and take pictures together. The girls told the students through their photographs and story-telling how people fall sick from polluted water during the monsoon, shelters and personal possessions are destroyed by heavy cloud bursts, their school books and writing pads become soggy and useless, crops rot in the fields, cooking a meal becomes a big challenge, and all the bedding is wet making it hard to sleep. Seeing and hearing something of the lives of people in this urban farming village, and standing in green fields in the heart of Delhi, was a completely new experience for the visitors!

Visit Yamuna’s Daughters at

My concern is that we tend to speak naively about the practice and potential of participatory photography. As practitioners I fear that at times we promise more than be delivered and come to believe our own promises (Kennedy 2005). Participatory photography projects have been criticised for over stating the benefits they claim to achieve. Projects profess that when you give a camera, you give voice but such declarations oversimplify the process. The field often relies on an overly romanticized rhetoric that assumes the great power of photography to empower but that seldom specifies a vision of change. The meaning of empowerment is assumed rather than defined and as a result it is often used by a diversity of people that do not necessarily agree on its content or share the same goals. In participatory photography projects do the practitioners and the organisations involved have a shared vision of change with their beneficiaries? How do participants define what it means to be empowered and does their version of empowerment tally with the humanitarian version often held by the practitioners and organisations managing the projects? Eric Gottesman, a photographer who works with collaborative methods recently criticised the tendency of participatory photography projects to cloak themselves in a ‘pseudo-democratic rhetoric’ of empowerment and ‘giving voice to the voiceless’. As he rightly points out this is a large claim. It is not as if simply handing out cameras is going to radically alter the inequalities that marginalise communities all over the world. Kester also refers to what he calls the issue of ‘discursive determinism’ – a belief that dialogue, or ‘voice’, in and of itself has the power to radically transform social relations (1999). He argues that this view overlooks differentials in power relations that affect people’s participation in the discourse. The danger is that the dialogue itself becomes an aesthetic, detached from the mechanisms of political change and playing a primarily symbolic role. A number of academics are now calling for the ‘repoliticization of humanitarianism’1 as concepts such as participation and empowerment have become not much more than empty buzzwords, their meanings vague and disconnected from a vision of political change. They urge that practitioners link their work to issues of politics, power and ethics in order to develop a more complex awareness about how projects instigate

and influence change. The trouble is that much of the language around participatory photography obscures the complexity of its practice and paints a misleading picture of its impact and relationship to change. Part of the issue is that the assumptions and narrative on which the practice is based needs to be unpicked. At its most basic level participatory photography professes to overturn the traditional power structure at the heart of the photographic act – the power play between the photographer and their subject. The assumption is that by handing over the camera, the power dynamic is inverted. The marginalised ‘Other’, so often the subject and ‘victim’ of traditional journalism and documentary practice, becomes the one with agency, the one who holds the camera. Projects talk of the subjects of the images becoming the creators. They suggest that the tables are turned, that an aspect of a dominant power has been re-distributed through the participatory photography process. This notion of inversion is central to the participatory photography enterprise that strives to provide a new direction for the use of photography, a medium historically complicit in the objectification and subjection of marginalised groups. In the act of handing the camera over the suggestion is that it is dislocated from its history as a tool used to dominate and is repositioned as an instrument that can enable, empower and make change possible. It is a simple and romantic story that rests on a number of questionable assumptions. These include the presumption that photography is a wholly empowering activity, that it has the power to change things, that the camera itself posses an inherent power that can be ‘given’ to the participant, that the significance of photographic activity lies within the act of pressing the shutter, that those who take the picture retain control of their images and the ways they are represented. Many contemporary theorists would suggest these beliefs and the narrative they weave reveals a onedimensional view of power. Building on Foucault’s thinking, they suggest a conception of power, that sees it not simply as an object, like a camera that can be handed over, but as a relation that is omnipresent and strategic. It is not fixed entity but something that mutates and transforms. Handing over the camera does not solve the power disparities inherent in global visual representation. Power issues are still central to the dynamics of participatory photography and projects take place in contexts where multiple inequalities exist (PhotoVoice 2009). Participants may be from the same communities as the subjects in their images but this does not mean power relations are not still an issue. Being in charge of pressing the shutter does not mean you have control over how you are seen or who sees you. Terminology such as collaboration and participation implies equality. However, in participatory photography projects power disparities still define the ways projects operate and are managed, the ‘differential power between photographer / teacher and subject / learner is critical’ to the enterprise (De Cuyper 1997). Collaboration requires participants to have some sort of technical, intellectual and cultural parity yet this kind of equality rarely exists in projects where practitioners and NGOs are engaging with marginalised communities with limited access to resources. David Levi Strauss warns, ‘photography has always had the potential to democratize images, but it has

seldom worked out that way in practice’. Those of us that love photography must not fall into the trap of being idealistic and romantic about what images make possible. We often come to participatory photography with naive assumptions and unaware of the complexities of sustainability, protection, funding, audience, competing agendas, consent, representation and collaboration that shape them. Much of the language in which projects are packaged hides issues of power and ethics central to shaping the process. Bill Jay pointed out that there is a ‘fine line between collaboration and exploitation’. The danger we fall into is to raise expectations that are impossible to meet and at worst that we find ourselves contributing to the very problems we hoped to serve. Debating the limitations, challenges, problems and tensions inherent in participatory photography work will allow the construction of a more honest theory of practice and more profound understanding of how participatory photography can be used as a tool for social change.

Tiffany Fairey is co-founder and of PhotoVoice and now acts as a consultant for the organisation. She is currently an Mphil/ PhD candidate in Visual Sociology at Goldsmiths University, her research focuses on the dynamics of participatory photography and its relationship to social change.

Readings / References Campbell, David 2003 ‘Salgado and the Sahel: Documentary Photography and the Imaging of Famine’ in Debrix, F. & Weber, C. (eds). Rituals of Mediation: International Politics and Social Meaning Campbell David 19998 ‘Why Fight: Humanitarianism, Principles and Post Structuralism’, Millenium, Journal of International Studies 27 De Cuyer, Sheila, 1997, ‘On The Future of Photographic Representation in Anthropology: Lessons from the Practice of Community Photography in Britain’, Visual Anthropology Review 13:2 Godden, Rob, 2009, ‘Participatory Photography - Jack of all Trades, Master of None?’, blog post at Gottesman, Eric, quoted on Foto8: content/view/406/31/ James, Wendy, 1999, ‘Empowering Abiguities’ In ‘The Anthropology of Power, Cheater, Angela (ed) Jay, Bill, 1990, ‘Uncaring Camera: issues of morality in photography’, available on Kennedy, David, 2005, ‘The Dark Sides of Virtue: Reassessing International Humanitarianism’ , Princeton Press Kester, Grant, 1999, ‘Dialogical Aesthetics: A Critical Framework For Littoral Art’, Variant:9 Levi Strauss, David, 2005, ‘Between the Eyes: Essays on photography and Politics’, Aperture PhotoVoice’s Statement of Ethical Practice, 2009, available on http://, Ruby, Jay, 1991, ‘Speaking For, Speaking About, Speaking With, or Speaking Alongside An Anthropological and Documentary Dilemma’, Visual Anthropology Review 7:2 Sliwinski, Sharon, 2004, ‘A painful labour: responsibility and photography’, Visual Studies 19:2

PICS Festival 2012 Saturday 19th May 2012, 11am-4pm Hub Westminster, London

PICS 2012 Special Edition Newspaper  

Photographic Images Changing Society Photographs and writing about issues and work in the field of photography as a tool for social change.

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