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Awakening the past, Expressing the present: Stories of photography, migration and belief in a Mexican village
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies, JMK.
2014 (English)In: Photographic Powers: Helsinki Photomedia 2014 / [ed] Mika Elo, Marko Karo, Helsinki: Aalto University , 2014, 308-333 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

How may the practice of photography shift ways of looking at oneself and at one's community? Can creating visual narratives also support reexamining the past, whereby old pictures and other objects gain new significance? This article addresses these questions in a study of several workshops on transmedial storytelling in the town of St. Ana Zegache, Oaxaca, Mexico. We chose photography as the primary medium for the workshops, based on our interest in the visual vernacular and the relative ease of using simple cameras to acquire first-person accounts of everyday experience. We did not anticipate that participants would seize the opportunity to work across media, to include other objects and images, weaving alternative histories into their stories.

We found that telling stories through photographs opened possibilities for some participants to reinterpret experiences of the self in relation to place, community and beliefs. This became ‘empowering’ in the moment when each person presented his or her story, sharing this reinterpretation with other workshop participants, simultaneously re-enacting his or her place within the community. Examples included experiences of migration, familial relations, and their own creative practice.

Old photographs and objects, as repositories of histories and memories, acquired new dimensions when incorporated into contemporary stories.  Participants also reflected on the value of their narratives beyond the immediate community, to people elsewhere who would be interested in the culture of Zegache, and ‘how we live here.’ They saw the digital interface as a network offering the possibility of sharing their stories with an audience from afar. The reflexive power of photography in this context revealed the image as multidimensional, beyond visual representation, encompassing both individual and collective experience.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Helsinki: Aalto University , 2014. 308-333 p.
Keyword [en]
Photography, digital story-telling, Mexico
National Category
Visual Arts Media Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-127599ISBN: 978-952-60-6392-8OAI: diva2:910167
Helsinki Photomedia 2014, Helsinki, Finland, March 26-28, 2014
Changing Places, VR 2010-2014
Swedish Research Council, 2009-29860-64897-65
Available from: 2016-03-08 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2016-03-10Bibliographically approved

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