Collaborative Creative Artistic Photography: Storytelling with People with a Refugee Experience
Existing literature on media depictions of refugees shows that they are predominantly negative and reinforce stereotypes by representing refugees as either threats or passive victims. The absence of names, faces, voices, personal stories and individual histories in these representations marginalise the lives and experiences of refugees. This study develops a method I call Collaborative Creative Artistic Photography (CCAP) to enable people with refugee backgrounds and their collaborators to tell their stories and, by extension, challenge dominant stereotypes about refugees. The four participants in this study and the researcher- artist use CCAP to jointly explore, create and curate stories from refugee experiences. As an iterative method, CCAP synthesises various existing methods to identify important aspects of the participants’ lives from their perspectives and to enhance the communication of the stories. The resulting photographs and stories culminated in an exhibition, titled Mementos.1 This event was accompanied by the publication of a booklet containing the photographs and stories. The depiction of the participants settled into their new homes, engaged in diverse activities such as participating in cultural and religious events and striving for the betterment of themselves, their families, and communities, provide the audience with alternative narratives. While the collaborative model that this research-practice propose is context-dependent, developed through the researcher interaction with the participants, it contributes to scholarship concerning ethical and creative considerations in the process of photographic representation of refugees. The written component of the thesis details the model for future artistic practices to open up a space for refugees to construct their stories. This collaborative model can also be applied, modified or transferred to other arts-based practices that aim to represent marginalised communities whose voices are seldom heard.