You’ve used the time when you have been unable to shoot very well to read and write around your proposed subject area. Its good to see that you have begun working with subjects.
Assessment potential (after Assignments 2 and 4)
I understand your aim is to go for the Photography/Creative Arts* Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.
Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
In addition to, or complimentary to the feedback given during Skype tutorial –
You highlighted issues with journalism, people changing their stories or forgetting things, this has meant that the ‘campaigning’ documentary aspect may be weakened. I don’t think that forgoing a direct challenge to the state/medical profession will necessarily weaken the premise of your project, especially as you point out that in such collaborative work the subjects probably want to move forward rather than look back. This ties with the four related areas that you feel the work will discuss;
A perceived burden on society –
Lack of occupation –
Questions of identity –
I’m happy with these four complimentary ideas guiding your work as they all contribute to helping audiences relate to the subjects.
Many of these issues are related to stigma, you note that the subjects can ‘combat them all with self-sufficiency’, and that the subjects’ aims (which you want to help be a part of) is to ‘achieve and maintain a sense of normalcy’.
Given that, I think it would be useful to position yourself within the humanist tradition of documentary photographers. We spoke about Magnum, W Eugene Smith and Phillip Jones Griffiths for example.
The change in circumstances does mean that you can still work with the same people, just your angle has changed, personal stories will have the advantage of immediacy for audiences, see above.
I asked how you pitch to prospective clients. You replied, creating work for a Kazakh audience first, then potential for dissemination (in English) to internet audience.
How does working with the disability centre change your work, and are there compromises that having such a (necessarily) close relationship has on your work?
Remember to discuss collaborative working, how does this affect your method, and subsequent choice of work to exhibit, pick pertinent examples that you can illustrate these things.
You say you find that subjects find it quite easy to work with you, this seems apparent in the work shown so far. You are discussing the push and pull of relationships in your blog.
We discussed how Western audiences can be spectacularly uniformed about places such as Kazakhstan, and fall back on cliches or outdated knowledge. Don’t underestimate the power of showing how ordinary and globalised Kazakhstan looks. I mentioned Philip Jones Griffiths’ quote about sending photojournalists to country X to illustrate our preconceptions.
We discussed the proposed number of subjects. Whilst its important to keep all options open, it is possible that a very in depth project on just one subject could suffice. You are aware of the difficulties of maintaining relationships whilst producing documentary work.
The Liz Wells’ quote I mentioned was, ‘For me, one of the criteria for evaluating art is whether the imagery makes me think differently about something that matters’, in Futureland Now, 2012.
We discussed b/w versus colour, and ideas of icons. We agreed that the colour work shown so far fits with ideas of ‘normalcy’.
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context
A really thorough and well written blog. I am satisfied that you have laid the groundwork for tackling your current subject matter, you have looked at other practitioners, writers and a number of articles that deal with ethics and practicalities of portraying disabled subjects and disability issues. We discussed that you are not doing the [new] contextual studies part of L3 but here’s a quote from the handbook, I think you’re covering this within your own research –
Hopefully, you’ll be working on your extended written project alongside the development of your major project in Body of Work. It is not compulsory, but we strongly advise that there is a crossover between your research interests for your major project and the topic of your extended written project. This will deepen the level of critical thought that you bring to bear on your practical work and have a positive impact upon its quality. Your extended written project must not provide a narrative account of the making of that work, nor should its purpose be to contextualise it, but is should address the themes or questions that are pertinent to your practice.
The work you are currently making is contextualised and you have an awareness of issues regarding its potential dissemination and effect on audiences. I’ve no doubt that your research will have a positive impact upon quality.
Suggested reading/viewing Context
Perhaps Susie Linfield for discussions on humanist photographers. Fred Ritchin on the potential current positive repositioning of photojournalists.
Pointers for the next assignment
Continue to build relationships so that you can show more images for the next tutorial.
Building on some of the discussions we had above, is there anything intrinsically different/peculiar about Kazakhstan that would be pertinent to Western audiences understanding your project?