The Photo-Essay is Dead, Long Live the Photo-Essay is both the name of a workshop and title of a rapid-prototype publication. The workshop was organized by the Ethnographic Terminalia Collective for the 2016 meetings of the American Anthropological Association in Minneapolis Minnesota, held on November 17, 2016. The workshop featured presentations from international contemporary art photographers, photo-journalists and anthropologists and resulted in a collaboratively-produced rapid prototype ‘zine of the photo-essays curated for presentation in the workshop and photo-essays by workshop participants. The zine cover was designed and the book was printed by Sam Gould of Beyond Repair, in Minneapolis as a limited edition and distributed at a launch event 36 hours later.
About the publication
Before the workshop, presenters were asked to submit creatively designed and critically engaged page-spreads featuring photo-essays and discussions they would present during the workshop. Participants in the workshop were encouraged to print photographs from their own photo-essay works in-progress and bring them to work with, throughout the day. We documented the event and the spreads and notes and included a selection of them in the zine publication. Sam Gould of Beyond Repair created the cover.
While photographs have been a component of anthropological practice since its earliest formation as a discipline, there has been little sustained and critical engagement with modes of presentation and publication in the context of visual anthropology. As a result there has to date been little clarity around the definition of a photo-essay especially within the context of anthropology. This reality is precisely what interested us. Our academic conventions for sharing photographs have been cemented around a limited number of typically black and white images in a journal article or monograph.
We also believe that still photographs and their entanglements with other media are on the cusp of finding new importance in anthropology in the form of the photo-essay, in particular as the serial nature of photography is being tested out within digital infrastructures on the Internet. We were interested in a workshop that could be a testing ground, and so we encouraged making and working on the photo-essay by the workshop participants: To disrupt, to re-define, and to work within and beyond the photographic frame. ET provided simple supplies such as scissors, sharpies, post-its, and invited participants to use these to explore new modes presentation, to include new formats, to create a record of questions and comments that arose over the course of the day.
Building on Ethnographic Terminalia’s art-anthropology experiments at off-site locations, we decided to return to the American Anthropological Association annual meetings site in 2016 to re-examine the photo-essay within anthropological, photographic and publishing communities within the format of a workshop. ‘The Photo-Essay is Dead, Long Live the Photo-Essay!’ emulates our recent workshop and rapid-publication projects (Vancouver 2015). To achieve this within the framework of the AAA meetings, we issued an open call and invited participants to actively consider how experimentations at the intersection of art and anthropology might function as prototypes for thinking about the future of the photographic image in anthropology.
The workshop was organized around presentations by international contemporary art photographers, photo-journalists and anthropologists, in three parts. Part One began with provacteurs Stephanie Sadre-Orafai and Jordan Tate (University of Cincinnati). Part Two featured Lee Douglas (New York University), Kate Schneider (Ontario College of Art and Design), and Teresa Montoya (New York University). Part Three featured Aubrey Graham (Centre for Humanities Research, South Africa) Donna DeCesare (University of Texas, Austin) and Jeffrey Schonberg (San Francisco State University).
After the workshop, Ethnographic Terminalia and guest editor Gabriela Aceves-Sepulvéda completed the design, layout, and printing of the zine. Then we sent it to Sam Gould at Beyond Repair in Minneapolis for printing and binding within a 36-hour time frame. These limited edition print copies were made available on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at the Society for Visual Anthropology-supported Ethnographic Terminalia Lounge and Book Launch in the AAA Meeting venue.
‘The Photo-Essay is Dead, Long Live the Photo-Essay!’ was organized by the Ethnographic Terminalia Collective for the 2016 meetings of the American Anthropological Organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This rapid-prototype publication, which was printed and launched within 36 hours of the conclusion of its partner workshop, and this website, is the product of the creative energy and enthusiasm of many people and organizations.
We would like to express our gratitude to all of the workshop participants for joining us in the experimental creation of this publication. In particular, we acknowledge the workshop presenters for sharing their inspiring work in the workshop and in the pages that follow: Stephanie Sadre-Orafai, Jordan Tate, Jeffrey Schonberg, Donna DeCesare, Kate Schneider, Lee Douglas, Teresa Montoya, and Aubrey Graham.
Our gratitude to Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda, who led the print design and layout of the zine, and to Hannah Turner who assisted the rapid-production of the zine throughout the workshop and into the night. We are also very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Sam Gould at Minneapolis’ Beyond Repair, who designed and printed our cover, and facilitated the rapid printing of the publication. Thank you to Reese Muntean and Aynur Kadir for documenting the workshop.
We extend our sincere thanks to the American Anthropological Association (AAA), in particular Ushma J. Suvarnakar and Samuel Martinez, for inviting this experimental event to the 2016 meetings. We are ever grateful to our funding partners for making this work possible: The AAA, The Society for Visual Anthropology, and the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council.
This website was designed by Kate Hennessy, Aynur Kadir, and Kyle McIntosh at Popgun Media.
Photographs are by Reese Muntean and Kate Hennessy.
The video was produced by Aynur Kadir and Kate Hennessy with the Ethnographic Terminalia Collective.
The Ethnographic Terminalia Collective is: Stephanie Takaragawa, Trudi Lynn Smith, Fiona P. McDonald, Kate Hennessy, and Craig Campbell.