Re-thinking Stranger through Photographic Practice
How can the notion of stranger be understood through photography, in a way that exceeds documentary modes of photographic practice? In attempting to answer this, the practice-based research formulates and aligns the question of the stranger with the question of photography, challenging both the conventional understandings of the stranger and the idea of photographic image as referential, punctual certainty.
Context and background
In the writings of Georg Simmel, Etienne Balibar, Zygmunt Bauman and Julia Kristeva, the stranger is understood as the foreign body, often perceived as enemy or intruder, as a figure of difference or as an experience and encounter with otherness that resonates with our inner psychological self. However, representations of the stranger belonging to the documentary photography genre are part of an epistemological and political framework that produces photographic images as intentional or unintentional confirmation of social, economic and post-colonial hierarchies.
My research proposes a different model by asking how such a representational fetishisation of a figure of the stranger can be undermined through experimental and experiential modes of photographic practice. I propose a re-thinking of stranger via a philosophical framework and my own practice, in a way that escapes the inside / outside segregation of the frame.
This research project was made possible through an award granted by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)