Friday, January 23, 2009

that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve?

"that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself"

President Obama's inaugural speech had a small, jangly note for me: his invocation for the lines of tribe to dissolve. in context, he is calling for an end to violence that uses tribal loyalty as an excuse for discord and exclusion.  to see the common humanity that transcends tribal allegiance is an ideal and surely a necessary one. but taken in a much broader context, his statement also makes me consider when the melting pot is not enuf.

could the concept of unity exist without tribes?  (and would we want it to?) tribes are enormously important to us and i think there is no chance of that importance lessening--if anything, new media's power to connect disparate people with similar interests will continue to propagate an increase in new tribes. and today's contemporary tribes, many affinity-based in nature, have shifted the traditional boundaries of our identity politics.

in photography, it is by now a time-honored (or time-worn) tradition to visually document a "tribe." many readers will recognize that this is not my favorite kind of project; especially one that chases at strangeness and specificity with a sort of butterfly-catcher's net.  often these projects, from the POV of the photographer as sociologist, point toward a common humanity as well. (in that way some are universalizing in their otherwise minoritizing lens.)

but although i usually shy away from projects that earnestly attempt to capture and document an actual community, there are many instances where i really enjoy the photographer's particular take on how to group people together into a tribe and how to present them visually.

today, i would like to honor tribes in photography. below are some of the "tribal" projects that i've noticed or been thinking about lately. some i respond to more strongly than others. but all of them, as a category of photographic production, both trouble and delight me.

("this is the price, and the promise, of citizenship.")

Rewilding, Lucas Foglia
(Off-the-grid homesteaders)

Nollywood, Pieter Hugo
(Actors in the Nigerian film industry)

Still Lovers, Elena Dorfman
(Men and their real dolls)

Parameters, Corinne May Botz
(Agoraphobics and their environments)

Aicuna, Paola de Grenet
("The mysterious village of the albinos")

Perfectible Worlds, Sage Sohier
(Obsessive collectors and hobbyists)

Embodiment, Molly Landreth
("A portrait of queer life in America")


My Evil Self said...

Just chanced upon your blog, quite accidentally. :)

THIS post is gorgeous. Delightful indeed!

charkstudios said...

Your blog is very deep indeed...keeps me riveted. Nollywood photo had me in stitches! Look forward to more posts.