The Image of the Dialogue
One of the projects during the Manifesta Day in Cartagena on December 11th was a workshop which focused on the different ways in which artists use photography as a medium, especially in connection to themes such as intercultural dialogue and in the case of Manifesta 8 the dialogue with North Africa.
The workshop started early in the morning at the MURAM museum where the participants met and where introduced to each other. It immediately became apparent that each of the participants had a very different background and that the group consisted of people from may nationalities (Spanish, Italian, Malian, Turkish etc.). The workshop was divided in two parts; first up was a theoretical discussion and reflection on the exhibition and secondly an active investigation into the ways images are constructed and used by means of taking pictures in the streets of Cartagena ourselves.
The discussion started by a reflecting on the language of photography, and the way in which some of the artists in Manifesta 8 like Erlea Maneros Zabala employ the specific language of photography in their creative work.
Nowadays, photography as a medium is available to almost anyone. In addition to this we are also surrounded by photographic images in our everyday lives (television, advertising, internet, social networks). In order to further investigate the power, impact and limits of photography we use photography as a tool to investigate the theme of Manifesta 8 "in Dialogue with northern Africa".
In order to do this we first needed to question a few things, like "what is dialogue?", "how do we relate to the other?", "What about non-verbal language in this respect?", "how do we relate to different cultural values and what does this mean for the structure of a dialogue?". We discussed issues such as equality, tolerance, solidarity, empathy and respect. Investigating ways in which an intercultural dialogue could possibly take shape based on interaction, confrontation, commonalities and differences.
Still wondering: a dialogue between who? who are we in such a dialogue? what is our point of view?
We soon realize that within the group of participants the majority of views could be described as quite western, which is not surprising since only one participant is actually African.
What dialogue? Does dialogue presuppose an equality, and is this the basis on which to exchange, learn and relate to others and new situations. Dialogue has an important role in society and it's development. We define three attitudes that can develop: xenophobia, integration and multiculturalism. How do we act? what about new generations?
Time for action!
with our discussion in the back of our mind we went out to take pictures ourselves. How can we relate our pictures to our subjects in the streets of Cartagena? Do we actually start a dialogue first before taking a picture? how does this influence our point of view, and what influence does this have on our photography?
We stopped in various places such as the bakery, a Moroccan food store, the Plaza San Francisco.
Next stop was the Casino, one of the venues of Manifesta 8, where went to see the work of Stefanos Tsivopulos. The work inspired us to reflected on the role of images in the process of construction of reality and on the value of images as historical documents.
Our walk continued to Santa Lucia where passed through the port. We met and talked to some of the local fishermen.
Next up was the Local Social del barrio de Santa Lucía, a Manifesta venue featuring te work of Pedro G. Romero called Archivo F.X.
Our tour - and with it our workshop - ended at the former San Antón prison, where we discussed how images are used in everyday exchanges between people in the media . What can we say about the relationship between reality as we perceive it and the reality portrayed in the still image? How has the gaze of the participant to the workshop differed from each other’s during the day and how does that influence the resulting images? Can we distinguish a collective gaze? What about the moment of dialogue during the workshop, how did it develop within the group and with others? What about the Dialogue with North Africa in Cartagena? What do the pictures tell?
We've compiled a collection of the photos taken during the workshop on Flickr: here