Melanie Friend

My tutor suggested I look at the work of Melanie Friend as an example of anchorage – the use of captions with images to clarify the intended meaning.

Her collection of photographs entitled: No place like home: Echoes from Kosovo is an example of the combination of interviews and images to tell a story. She used images that challenged the conventions of war reporting, often peaceful and pretty, and linked them with text giving unexpected details of lived experiences to challenge the ‘response to the visual’ and avoid the stereotyping of refugees.

 

friend-1

The image here is one of an aunt and her four-year old niece in their home in a refugee camp. The portrait, set against the fabric of the shelter shows us that this is a family living in difficult circumstances. I see the remains of a family clinging to each other, perhaps having lost loved ones. Through the text we see an unexpected side to the image for we are presented with a little girl, Luarda who loves make up, who walks like a woman, and wants to be a model. The text acts as a challenge to stereotypical portrayals of refugees.

 

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Here we see a pretty and colourful mountain scene, a woman walking peacefully, a lovely blue sky. The text, however, informs us that we are following a mother who is taking us to see where her son had been killed, and we learn that ‘six months after the massacre of our men, their fathers and brothers went up the mountain to pick up the bones’.  We learn of the devastation of a family and their dealing with the aftermath of war at a very personal level, highlighting the real lives of individuals affected by fighting.

I really like this joining together of interview transcripts and images.

I am reminded of the work of Liz Hingley (reviewed in the British Journal of Photography – December 2016), which ‘celebrates (Smethwick) community’s diversity and the success stories of the immigrant families who settled there (p14).

Her project involved interviewing immigrant families about their favourite recipes from home, and she presented her work in a book with pages of hand-written recipes alongside her images of the families in their homes. In doing this, she presents a personal view of individual people and families and helps to ‘break down cultural barriers through the sharing of food.’ (p14)

Like Melanie Friend’s use of linguistic signs, ‘Details in the interviews aimed to build a more rounded picture of each individual’ (Friend 2001)

Note:

See my post about food in response to the BJP articles in the Food Issue December 2016.

References:

British Journal of Photography (December 2016) The Food Issue

Friend, M (2001) No Place Like Home: Echoes from Kosovo at   http://www.melaniefriend.com/noplacelikehome/

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