Contemporary Portraits of Migration. Life-Imaging in Documentary Photobooks
In the notion of the portrait, the representational strategies of depictio and descriptio are joined in a unique way. This entanglement serves as a point of departure for analyzing photo-documentary portraits as specific media and social configurations of migration (hi)stories. In debating the role of the documentary portrait in visual regimes of migration, the focus is placed on photobooks, since in them visual storytelling is a central feature. How are real-life migration experiences as survival stories and personal biographies inscribed in the portraits of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers? Which form(at)s of portraits are chosen, and which practices of portrayal are employed for the purpose of documenting migrant life?
To explore the contemporary photo-portrait as a documentary practice of life-imaging, photobooks by three renowned social and humanitarian documentary photographers will be analyzed, photographers who work internationally in order to reveal the complexity of global migration in different conflict zones and crisis regions of the world – Sebastião Salgado, Fazal Sheikh, and Jim Goldberg.
Respondent: Steffen Siegel (Folkwang Universität der Künste, Essen)