4 – 21 Oct CCCU Post Grad Induction Days

With registration on 4 October, once the formalities had been undertaken, it was an opportunity to meet both MA and PhD students who had also registered.

Following this three Induction Days were held on 12th, 21st and 22nd October.  They were very informative and endeavoured to cover all aspects of starting research together with an opportunity to see and speak to the main lecturers in various disciplines.

Some sessions were more informative than others such as academic writing and writing for research and the capabilities of the library system.  The round table discussions were scheduled at the end of the day. I personally found them not so useful as I released I was out of the habit of sitting concentrating for long periods.  However I am sure that I will soon become acclimatised back into student life.

1 Aug – 3 Oct PhD Preparation

STEPS TAKEN SO FAR:


Research

  1. My initial readings have shown up links with events in history at the time e.g. The Suffragette Movement.  In turn I requested copies of papers held in the Archives & Local History Department at Manchester Central Library.  The Fawcett Papers contains articles by Millicent Garrett Fawcett (President of The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies)  including one entitled ‘Women’s Work at the front’ (10.03.1915).  They also suggested that The Women’s Library at LSE could provide access to copy microfilms, so this will be investigated.   Through this I also discovered that her daughter Phillippa had made a great contribution to education at that time, and had given her name to the College of Education I attended from 1966-69.
  2. I have read and taken notes on all books produced by Florence Farmbrough and obtained copies of the original documents held by the Royal Geographical Society, following her being invited to become a member.  These also provided a family address which is a valuable contact for further in-depth information.

Preparatory Skills

  • I began by looking at various study guides which were helpful as background to what is involved and steps that will need to be taken from start to finish.
  • I reread ‘Critical Thinking Skills’ as I realised that I especially needed to improve my note-taking, so as to work more efficiently and effectively.
  • I obtained and read two self-help books in connection with public speaking as this is one area I also need to improve.

Next Steps

  • I now need to introduce an efficient filing system for information both physically and online, to enable ease of retrieval.  The study guides suggested various referencing systems which will now be investigated.
  • Once these have been instigated I need to take out membership of the Imperial War Museum and investigate (with visits) relevant information which is held in their archives.
  • Contact Florence Farmborough‘s family for background information particularly in connection with her photography work.
  • Renew contact with Dawn Cole in connection with Clarice Spratling to arrange, if possible to see the diary and find out about any photography connections.
  • Once all the initial induction sessions have taken place at Christ Church University I will be better placed to start my work as I will know who to see or contact for what and where to go.  The library (and the main campus)  I envisage to be extremely useful particularly as it is close to home, so I can make good use of all available facilities.

14 April: Final Thoughts and Influences.

VIDEO SUBMISSION

Having had the experience of making the initial proposal I found this a most helpful and informative exercise and it enabled me in turn to investigate changes which needed to be made for the final submission.  After spending time looking closely at the films of a very diverse range of filmmakers from Jean Cocteau, through to Terence Davies, Zineb Sedira and Zarina Bhimji, it made me analyse and focus more closely on exactly what I wanted to achieve through my own video.

I found scenes that did not involve any human presence particularly thought-provoking and created for me personally a greater involvement with the chosen subject. However, I soon realised that it would be virtually impossible to avoid a human presence due to the subject matter I had chosen. As the video concentrates on people begging and living on the streets, a human presence is in fact pivotal to my video.  So my challenge was to try to find a common ground, to relate what I wanted to show and not merely depict people and scenes in a purely documentary way.  I also wanted to use other influences to guide my own practice but still use my own voice.  So the work particularly of Zineb Sedira and Zarina Bhimji influenced the  way I had previously thought about the importance of the speed, and the flow of one scene to another; the mix of incremental sound and audio and to create a general pace for the work as a whole .

As a first attempt at making a video it brought the need for technical expertise into play and also emphasised the importance of smooth panning shots, and the ability to create different levels of focus, through such things as zooming in on a subject.  The ability to be able to use my Canon 5D MKII to do the filming was a great asset, although I soon realised that the audio capabilities of the camera were somewhat limited, so in turn I used a Zoom H1 hand-held  recorder when I was undertaking the interviews. This also made it easier in the editing process when I wanted to treat the audio aspects separately from the visual recordings.

As a photographer such things as composition become almost automatic over time and filming itself was an exciting experience.  The general public seemed almost to disregard me and seemed less suspicious than if I was out taking pictures with my camera. It also highlighted the need for the necessary equipment, such as filming on a tripod or monopod and the ability to film on the move whilst holding a heavy camera.  This is something that I need to prefect with the acquisition of the correct equipment.

As a result of the initial proposal it was also it was also necessary to reduce the amount of content as the resulting work would have been too long, so this in turn made me look more closely as what was important to include and in turn what to remove.  For example,  I did not finally include any of the interviews I had recorded with members of the public but merely included those taken with people who had experience of begging and living on the streets.

The editing process, whilst time-consuming I found was personally challenging, exciting and  a very creative process.  It highlighted the importance of audio as an instrument to create atmosphere to the visual element of the film.  Initially I had intended to  include music appropriate to the subject matter, such as Tom Jones’ ‘I want to go home’, but realised that it is preferable to have instrumental tracks only, so as not to create any influence on the viewer, whether intentional or otherwise.  I was also interesting in being able to mix in different layers of audio and in turn fine tune such things as when sound fades in and out on a scene, and to lead in to the next scene.

WRITTEN ELEMENT

The word count limit for the written element of the submission meant that whilst initially I had intended to compare a film by Zineb Sedira with one by Zarina Bhimji, I could realistically only focus on one film.  So I chose Yellow Patch  by Zarian Bhimji, which had made a lasting impression on me having first seen her work in December 2012.    The written element of this submission can be seen via the following link:

 http://wp.me/p463VC-pe

Personally I have greatly enjoyed discovering the work of people I may have come into contact with before but not looked at so closely.  As a result I now find that I particularly view film footage in a different way after having made the video.  With everything that one does we become more critical of our own work, or find ways that it could be improved if we were repeating the exercise.  In this respect learning in turn enables one to gain expertise and together with it the confidence to progress in the future.

Mixed Media Project – Written Element

MIXED MEDIA PROJECT

WRITTEN ELEMENT

An investigation into the influence of bias on the photographic and moving image

As viewers we regard unfavourably those photographic images that have been overtly manipulated, in instances such as to change the physical appearance of celebrities or public opinion for political gain; such as the image of O.J. Simpson on the cover of Time Magazine in 1994.  On considering bias, it is to be questioned as to whether or not bias is a less overt form of manipulation, and whether it is ever possible to produce work which is completely devoid of bias on behalf of the photographer or filmmaker.  This essay will look at the film ‘Yellow Patch’ (2011) by Zarina Bhimji, a 35 mm film shot in India; to determine if her work provides evidence of personal preferences and inclinations.  She is a mixed media artist who has worked with installation, photography and video.

Bhimji was born in Uganda in 1963 to Asian parents, who were later expelled to the UK by the Idi Amin Regime in 1974.  This appears to have led to a search for her own sense of a personal and national identity through her work, having returned to her ancestral country to investigate how things currently exist.  The film follows a documentary format which Tagg (1988, p.12) refers to as having, “transformed the flat rhetoric of evidence into an emotional experience of drama.”  It is also more realistic than what Howells and Negreiros (2014, pp. 207, 208) refer to as, “photography’s ‘frozen’ reality (which) … frees the viewer from the constraints of time and space.”  Prosser (2006, p.72) also adds that film in turn provides the ‘fourth dimension’, an extension of that moment in time which photography captures. The exhibition by Bhimji at the Whitechapel Gallery (2012) provided a collaboration of both still and moving images, where images related to the supplementary film to form a cohesive whole.  These in turn enabled the viewer to engage with the subject matter on a much deeper level.

“The dominant tradition in film”, according to Sontag (2009, p.244) “has centered upon the more or less novelistic unfolding of plot and idea”.   However films particularly within the gallery setting, go beyond the mere narrative towards the ideological, and a view that it is not necessary to present work through more conventional means. Sontag (1979, p.143) also stated that the nature of photography (and in turn film) is such that, “one is not obliged to choose; and that preferences are … merely reactive.”  Bhimji (2012, pp.18, 19) states that “it is important … to remain allegorical if (she touches on) … the subject of politics” but she is interested in creating an emotional response to the material; that which Walter Benjamin (cited in Sontag, 1979, p.76) described as, “to see a new beauty in what is vanishing”.  The viewer concentrates on the evidence they are presented with, and history continues to resonate through to the present bringing new meanings and outlooks towards our increasingly diverse and multicultural environment.  Bhimji states on her website, that she is interested in the “location of light”, and in turn that stillness has the ability to almost create “a suspension of everyday life”.

In Yellow Patch there is a marked absence of the human presence but it makes the viewer stop, contemplate what they are presented with and in turn be still for a while; what Barthes (2000, p.27) refers to as ‘Punctum … that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).”  However Barthes (2000, p.38) also proceeds to state that, “the object speaks, it induces us, vaguely, to think (and that) …no meaning at all is safer.”  Bhimji is not merely playing safe but depicts her personal interpretation of what she has seen and the need she has felt to share this with the viewer.  It does however also show the constraints and decisions she has made in turn as to what not to depict in her work.

The film has an almost ethereal effect with a virtually monochrome palette of colour interspersed with a brief patch of yellow on the trim of the sari as shown in Fig.1, the cobalt blue of the breast of the peacock, and the red and yellow in a stained glass window. We are not told as to what the yellow patch refers, so it possibly may be a metaphor for the vibrant saffron colours of India, the trim on the sari or the quality of changing light.

ZB scan0001 Fig. 1

Bhimji has used three layers of audio within the film, music by Abida Paveen, ambient sounds and radio recordings.  Together these provide strong clues for the viewer together with the slow contemplation on the images. The repetition of the ambient sounds and radio recordings create an almost ghost like environment, as if the former employees were still working in the buildings, with historical evidence suggesting abandonment from events that had previously occurred.

ZB

Fig.2

The absence of any voice-over commentary further emphasises what is referred to as, “the fact that strong emotional events often resist linguistic expression” (Bhimji, 2012, p.23).  She uses very slow panning shots and her photographic influence can be seen in the chosen composition and subjects on which she focuses; old files dusty and decaying in the Colonial Office (Fig.2), cobwebs, peeling paint and deep cracks in walls (fig.3) with traces left behind of former human habitation.

ZB 23009

Fig.3

Nature appears to be slowing taking over buildings long abandoned such as the Haveli Palace (Fig 4).

ZB 2 untitled

Fig.4

 Within the buildings aspects left behind allude to a former time of prosperity, now long gone since the fall of colonialism and the end of the Raj (Fig.5).

ZB 86121_may25_bern_img

 

 Fig.5

There is a slow panning shot of a statue of Queen Victoria (Fig.6), mutilated either by design or the ravages of time; the bicycle to the right showing a modern trace of a human presence.

ZB ilr167

Fig.6

The final part of the film moves to the working port of Mumbai Harbour (Fig.7) and symbolises the fact that life has continued but the affluence of former times has long gone and life is still a struggle.

ZB 18794194241_BVTM7

Fig.7

As one grows older for many there is nostalgia in looking back at the past and an affinity for places known as a child.   For Bhimji, her decision to visit India and her ability to gain access to the sites enabled her to understand the lasting effects of a dispersed population, and the life her parents had been forced to leave behind.  The decisions she made as to what to document, how to go about it and what she hoped to achieve by so doing, is evidence of her own personal bias.  This is also evidenced by the editing process in making the video, what she decided to include or leave out reflects her views and beliefs as to what she felt was important.  It is also problematic to envisage being able to produce a piece of work which can ever be completely devoid of any personal bias in its formation.

                                                                                                                  Word  Count 1158

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Azoulay, A. (2014) The Civil Contract of Photograph. New York: Zone Books.

Badger, G. (2007) The Genius of Photography, How Photography has changed    

                              our lives. London: Quadrille.

Badger, G. (2010) The Pleasures of Good Photographs. New York: Aperture.

Barrett, T. (2006) Criticizing Photographs, An Introduction to Understanding

                             Images.  New York: McGraw Hill. 

Barthes, R. (2000) Camera Lucida. London: Vintage.

Berger, J. (2008) Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin Books.

Bourdieu, P. (2003) Photography A Middle-brow Art. Oxford: Polity Press.

Bright, S. (2011) Art Photography Now. London: Thames & Hudson.

Campany, D. (2010) Photography and Cinema.  London: Reaction Books.

Clarke, G. (1997) The Photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Collier, J, jnr & Collier, M. (1986) Visual Anthropology, Photography as a

                                Research Method. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Cotton, C. (2014) The Photograph As Contemporary Art.

                                London: Thames & Hudson.

Flusser, V. (2007) Towards A Philosophy Of Photography.

London: Reaktion Books.

Fried, M. (2012) Why Photography Matters As Art As Never Before.

London: Yale University Press.

Gidal, P. (1979)  “The Anti-Narrative”, in Screen Vol.20, No.2

Gray, C. & Malins, J. (2004) Visualising Research. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.

Hall, S. (1993) “Encoding, decoding”, in During, S. The Cultural Studies Reader.

                           London: Routledge, pp. 91-103.

Hall, S. (ed.) (2010) Representation, Cultural Representations and Signifying

                               Practices. Milton Keynes: Sage Publications.

Howells, R. & Negreiros, J. (2014) Visual Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Ingledew, J. (2005) Photography. London: Laurence King Publishing

Jaeger, A-C. (2010) Image Makers, Image Takers. London: Thames & Hudson.

La Grange, A. (2008) Basic Critical Theory for Photographers.

Oxford: Focal Press.

Marien, M. W. (2010) Photography: A Cultural History. London: Laurence King.

Prosser, J. (ed.) (2006) Image-Based Research. Abingdon: Routledge.

Rose, G. (2014) Visual Methodologies. London: Sage Publications.

Sontag, S. (1979) On Photography. London: Penguin Books.

Sontag, S. (2009) Against Interpretation and Other Essays. London: Penguin

Books.

Soutter, L. (2013) Why Art Photography? Abingdon: Routledge.

Shore, R. (2014) Post-Photography, The Artist with a Camera.

London: Laurence King.

Tagg, J. (1993) The Burden of Representation, Essays on Photographies and

                         Histories. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press  

Traub, C., Heller, S. & Bell, A. (eds.) (2006) The Education of a Photographer.

New York: Allworth Press.

Van Alpen, E. (2005) Art in Mind, How Contemporary Images Shape Thought.  

                        London: University of Chicago Press.

Walden, S. (ed.) (2010) Photography And Philosophy, Essays On The Pencil Of

                          Nature.  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Wells, L. (2009/a) The Photography Reader. Abingdon: Routledge.

(2009/b) Photography, A Critical Introduction. Abingdon: Routledge.

Wheeler, T. (2010) Phototruth or Photofiction? London: Routledge

Whitechapel Gallery. (2012) Zarina Bhimji. London: Ridinghouse.

Woods, T. (2009) Beginning Postmodernism.

                              Manchester: Manchester University Press

 

Website: http://www.zarinabhimji.com/

http://www.zarinabhimji.com/video_yellowpatch_part1.htm (2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Azoulay, A. (2014) The Civil Contract of Photograph. New York: Zone Books.

Badger, G. (2007) The Genius of Photography, How Photography has changed    

                   our lives. London: Quadrille.

Badger, G. (2010) The Pleasures of Good Photographs. New York: Aperture.

Barrett, T. (2006) Criticizing Photographs, An Introduction to Understanding

                   Images.  New York: McGraw Hill. 

Barthes, R. (2000) Camera Lucida. London: Vintage.

Berger, J. (2008) Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin Books.

Bourdieu, P. (2003) Photography A Middle-brow Art. Oxford: Polity Press.

Bright, S. (2011) Art Photography Now. London: Thames & Hudson.

Campany, D. (2010) Photography and Cinema.  London: Reaction Books.

Clarke, G. (1997) The Photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Collier, J, jnr & Collier, M. (1986) Visual Anthropology, Photography as a

                        Research Method. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Cotton, C. (2014) The Photograph As Contemporary Art.

                        London: Thames & Hudson.

Flusser, V. (2007) Towards A Philosophy Of Photography.

London: Reaktion Books.

Fried, M. (2012) Why Photography Matters As Art As Never Before.

London: Yale University Press.

Gidal, P. (1979) “The Anti-Narrative”, in Screen Vol.20, No.2

Gray, C. & Malins, J. (2004) Visualising Research. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.

 

 

Hall, S. (1993) “Encoding, decoding”, in During, S. The Cultural Studies Reader.

                           London: Routledge, pp. 91-103.

Hall, S. (ed.) (2010) Representation, Cultural Representations and Signifying

Practices. Milton Keynes: Sage Publications.

Howells, R. & Negreiros, J. (2014) Visual Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Ingledew, J. (2005) Photography. London: Laurence King Publishing

Jaeger, A-C. (2010) Image Makers, Image Takers. London: Thames & Hudson.

La Grange, A. (2008) Basic Critical Theory for Photographers.

Oxford: Focal Press.

Marien, M. W. (2010) Photography: A Cultural History. London: Laurence King.

Prosser, J. (ed.) (2006) Image-Based Research. Abingdon: Routledge.

Rose, G. (2014) Visual Methodologies. London: Sage Publications.

Sontag, S. (1979) On Photography. London: Penguin Books.

Sontag, S. (2009) Against Interpretation and Other Essays. London: Penguin

Books.

Soutter, L. (2013) Why Art Photography? Abingdon: Routledge.

Shore, R. (2014) Post-Photography, The Artist with a Camera.

London: Laurence King.

Tagg, J. (1993) The Burden of Representation, Essays on Photographies and

                         Histories. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press  

Traub, C., Heller, S. & Bell, A. (eds.) (2006) The Education of a Photographer.

New York: Allworth Press.

Van Alpen, E. (2005) Art in Mind, How Contemporary Images Shape Thought.  

                        London: University of Chicago Press.

 

 

Walden, S. (ed.) (2010) Photography And Philosophy, Essays On The Pencil Of

                        Nature.  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Wells, L. (2009/a) The Photography Reader. Abingdon: Routledge.

(2009/b) Photography, A Critical Introduction. Abingdon: Routledge.

Wheeler, T. (2010) Phototruth or Photofiction? London: Routledge

Whitechapel Gallery. (2012) Zarina Bhimji. London: Ridinghouse.

Woods, T. (2009) Beginning Postmodernism.

                              Manchester: Manchester University Press

 

Website: http://www.zarinabhimji.com/

http://www.zarinabhimji.com/video_yellowpatch_part1.htm (2011)

 

 

 

 

26 March: Looking further at the work of Zarina Bhimji

I have found by going back and looking again at both her work and that of Zineb Sedira that there were aspects that became more prevalent, and more similarities between them I was first aware of.  I first saw the work of Zarina Bhimji at the Whitechapel Gallery, London in December 2012.  This exhibitions covered 25 years of her work and at that time I was particularly motivated by her use of photography and film together in an exhibition.   Like Sedira she was born in 1963, and her family moved to the UK in 1974 following the expulsion of the Ugandan Asians under the Idi Amin regime.

She works with photographs, large-scale film installations and  mixed media artefacts, and her work seems to be a constant exploration of cultural identity and history with reference to India and East Africa.

Her first film that received critical acclaim was Out of Blue (2002) which is a visual journey across Uganda with accompanying sounds of fire, birds and human voices.  One thing that is particularly noticeable in her work is the absence of the human presence, although in Out of Blue there are fleeting almost ghost-like figures that briefly appear, but the viewer realises that she is more interested in the surroundings and creating an atmosphere.  She explores the buildings and what has been left behind; a row of machine guns and rifles lined up against a wall, suggesting the aftermath of violence and war, yet abandoned as they stand.

ilr144

zarinabhimji415

This image formed part of the exploratory work which she undertook and later became the film Out of Blue.  It shows the inside of one of the buildings at  Entebbe Airport, a place of departure for the Asians leaving for the UK.

In 2012 her film Yellow Patch (2011) was nominated for the Turner Prize and this will be explored in more detail in my Mixed Media Essay.  Bhimji was interviewed by the publisher Phaidon about the film, where she states that she is not interested in people (http://uk.phaidon.com/aganda/art/picture-galleries/2012/january/18/zarina-bhimjis-world-without-people/) but she is interested to “… conjure stories about those who were once present and urge us to question why they are no longer there.”

The film looks at the landscape and architecture, with smooth slow panning of the scenes, an accompanying soundtrack of thunder, birdsong, radio broadcasts and the sounds of the government buildings as they must have been when they were busy and bustling with people.  They are now abandoned and in varying stages of decay, almost as if the people left in a hurry, with files still in evidence on the shelves.

Yellow Patch 2zb-image-06

Screen Shot 2012-03-11 at 14_00_20

One thing that is very apparent throughout her work is the amount of research she must have undertook and also the fact that the artifacts were made available to her to document and film.  Her work She Loved to Breathe – Pure Silence (1987) was an installation of eight photographic tinted images sandwiched together between plexiglass sheets and suspended by indivisible wire from the gallery ceiling.  One frame includes a pair of latex gloves with a government stamp on the back.

ilr15 schermafbeelding-2012-01-16-om-11-19-25The exhibition book, entited, ‘Zarina Bhimji’, 2012, The Whitechapel Gallery, London: Ridinghouse, refers to the exhibits as evidence of a Home Office procedure whereby Asian women arriving at Heathrow Airport in the 1970s, were forced to undergo virginity tests, to determine if they should be allowed to enter the UK for marriage.  This procedure was subsequently proved to be illegal but seems truely shocking to find out that this had taken place.

The work by Bhimji appears to be very politically motivated however the way it is presented leaves it very much up to the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions.  She is not preaching but merely stating the fact that this was how it was.

21 March: Looking further at the work of Zineb Sedira

The final part of my Mixed Media assignment now involves writing a 1,000 word essay that relates to the project and research I have conducted so far.  Apart from the challenge of restricting the essay to a small number of words, I have decided to look and concentrate in more detail at the work of the two photographers who have also worked in other mediums such as film namely, Zineb Sedira and Zarina Bhimji.  This will help to hone in on the important aspects of their work and to highlight any similarities or differences in their approach to their work. The search for a sense of national identity is apparent  in the work of both Sedira and Bhimji as both their respective parents left their homelands in periods of political conflict, and both return to aspects that are important to them in their work.

ZINEB SEDIRA (b.1963)

She was born in Paris to Algerian parents but now lives in London. Her work covers aspects as diverse as photography, film, installations and  object making.  Her website, http://www.zinebsedira.com states that she has gradually changed her focus of interest to “more universal ideas of mobility, memory and transmission … (and) also addresses environmental and geographical issues, negotiating between both past and future.”

An image from her early work (2002) Mother Tongue, which was a three screen installation is shown below.

4844201571_3a86759b22The film shows three generations of women, each speaking her own mother tongue.  Luxonline  (http://www.luxonline.org.uk/artists/zineb_sedira/essay(1).html) states that “their roots are audibly distinct, yet visually interconnected … (and demonstrates) how fractured and fractious communication can become when the mother tongue isn’t passed on.”   Her earlier film Don’t Do To Her What You Did To Me (1998-2001) reflects the loss that can be experienced when generations of families are no longer able to communicate, thus instigating isolation and discomfort.  Sedira however merely acts as a spectator and an interpreter, and provides no intervention in the events.  She is leaving the spectator to reach his or her own conclusions.

Sedira first visited Algeria 15 years after the end of the Civil War (1991-2002) and her parents later returned to live there.  So she in turn has explored the culture and themes of provenance, separation and return through her work.

Her film And the Road Goes On (2005) was recorded at speed from a moving car moving along a coast road in Algeria,  where objects almost appear as a blur.  The colours of the landscape provide a strong visual effect almost like a painting, and it is only when a person or another vehicle is passed that the film slows, almost concentrating on the human presence for a brief period.

and-the-road-goes-on..

Her more recent work show her strong interest in the sea as a metaphor for estrangement and isolation, her parents having to leave their homeland and in turn her investigations into her own national and cultural identity through her work.

Her film Middle Sea (2008) depicts a solitary male figure who wanders the decks of the ship almost aimlessly.  She has used audio to suggest rather than state, with noises of the engine, a radio trying to tune into a frequency and sounds of a group of people who are not seen.  This emphasises the solitary nature of the figure and the almost precariousness of his situation.  This links with the anxiety which must have been felt by her parents when they first left Algeria.

sedira_middlesea_2008_1Her more recent work has also included references to the sea, such as her film Floating Coffins (2009) which was filmed in Mauritania where the world’s shipping is beached and broken up, representing a hazard to shipping and a threat to the ecology of the area.  It also links with the area’s port of Nouashibou where African migrants left for Europe.  The work was shown on an installation of 14 screens and Sedira states that “Floating Coffins is a space where life, death, loss, escape, abandoned and shipwrecked journeys meet.  It’s both a toxic graveyard and a source for survival and hope.”  (http://www.iniva.org/2009/zineb_sedira)

ZS still 2009 Floating Coffins

Her work Lighthouse in the Sea of Time (2011) comprises a series of videos and photographic evidence of her visits to two Algerian lighthouses, depicts her interest in oral history, and the importance of memory and story telling.  She describes the lighthouses as witnesses to past history and the fact of their existence as preserving their stories.   It is depicted as a four-channel video presentation with photographs showing the lighthouse keepers’ logbook and museum views of artefacts.

zineb-sedira-6

It is proposed to consider further her recent work Guiding Light (2013) which uses a mixture of video, literary references and artifacts, for the written essay .

c5_Sedira_Zineb_Guiding_Light_2013

15 March: Catching Lives Abseil

In my capacity as Volunteer Coordinator and CL photographer, I was asked if I would cover the fund-raising abseil event in Maidstone.  My husband Tim had also agreed to take part so needed some moral support.  After having recently finished my previous video, this was an opportunity to film the event rather than just record through images.  The ambient sounds of the crowd of spectators I felt would be more apparent through the medium of film.

This turned out to be one of my less successful ventures but at the same time a good learning curve.  The first thing against me was the weather conditions which were cold, dull and overcast so the resulting film came out darker than I would have wished, but at the same time I felt it important to depict things as they actually were.

We were one of twenty teams taking part in the event so although I was able to gain access to the starting and finishing area at the base of the building, it was very cramped and it was difficult to film when the people were continually moving around and the organisers were mainly concerned to keep the proceedings moving along as quickly as possible.  I also realised that to do this again I need to have a shoulder rig, as to hold my heavy camera upwards to film from the top of the building was a great strain on my neck and arms.  So as a result the film is not as smooth as I had hoped to produce.

Apart from that the event raised considerable funds for the charity although I am not sure if my husband would repeat the exercise again!  The film was put on YouTube to enable Catching Lives in turn to put on the website and hopefully generate some more contributions.