A Question Concerning the Visible

A Question Concerning the Visible

By Jessica Kendall (SOAS, University of London)

How do we know about the Other?

Photographs

Jendaya had seen L´Ultimo Bacio at least five times
Jendaya had seen L´Ultimo Bacio at least five times.


Whenever he could find an excuse, Amri wore a tuxedo.
Whenever he could find an excuse, Amri wore a tuxedo.


Zawadi only had three fingers on his left hand
Zawadi only had three fingers on his left hand.


Nassir wondered what things would have been like if he had been a country musician instead
Nassir wondered what things would have been like if he had been a country musician instead.


Kobla never cried in front of anyone
Kobla never cried in front of anyone.

Words

The above images were taken at an ‘African’-themed circus that was touring through Europe in 2008. I spent three months with the tour travelling through Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.  I began as a PhD researcher, and moved on to become an employee of the circus itself. As I captured thousands of photos of the performers (who came from six different countries), I became intrigued by the differences between the aesthetics of the show and the life of the performers offstage.

Upon returning to London, I received funding to produce a photographic exhibition of my work at a gallery. For the exhibition, I placed photographs of performers ‘on stage’ side by side with those taken of performers outside the context of the circus performance. Moreover, each image was accompanied by a simple piece of text that gave a different perspective into the world of the performers. In this submission, I have echoed this concept by juxtaposing photographs of performers on stage with text.  In this way, I hope to invite the reader of this article, just as I did with people who attended the exhibition, to ponder how we, as spectators, evaluate visual information.

About the author

Jessica Kendall is currently a PhD candidate in the Anthropology and Sociology department at SOAS, University of London. Her research explores how circus performers develop their movements at various levels corporeal, geographic and cultural in order to increase their mobility within the international circus world. Behind the lens, Ms Kendall is most fascinated by the moment-to-moment interplay of movement, emotion and surprise.



Anthropology Matters Journal ISSN: 17586453 Publisher: Anthropology Matters url: www.anthropologymatters.com