The Transnational Family
Friday 8th June 2018 (11am-5pm)
This one-day research seminar, hosted in association with the VAR Research Centre for Art and Cultural Memory, explored the overlaps between personal and cultural interrogation of transnational identities through familial representations. This fruitful event looked at transnational family from different conceptual perspectives, including presentations by Caroline Molloy, Anand Chhabra, Amak Mahmoodian and FTN co-ordinator Lizzie Thynne, who presented work in progress with her sister Annabel.
Anand Chhabra: The Apna Heritage Archive – Punjabi Migration to Wolverhampton: A Photographic Journey 1960-1989
Anand Chhabra is a documentary photographer, who explores memory, place and family. Anand is also Chair of Black Country Visual Arts, which he founded, in early 2014. Anand found that there were no ethnically based arts organisations that were producing photographic art in the Black Country region about minorities such as those of his own Punjabi community. He also found little impact made by arts organisations within specific communities to help them explore their own stories.
Black Country Visual Arts recently created a resource in the City of Wolverhampton called the Apna Heritage Archive: an inaugural archive for Wolverhampton’s 40,000 Indian Punjabis. There was no existing collection of photographs or information that showed this community’s arrival in the City during 1960s-1980s. This project created a collection of over 2000+ images largely from participants’ own family albums, 75 contemporary portraits of the first generation of British Punjabis and ephemera relating to this period.
The whole archive consisting of 500 hard copies of photographs and items of ephemera can be accessed as resource at the City’s archive and online on their website.. The recent exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery Jan-March 2018 has been very well received. The Indian Punjabi community within the City is now represented.
Caroline Molloy: Studio Photography and the Turkish Disaspora
Caroline spoke about her PhD research, ‘Entangled Objects: Exploring the Visual Habits of Transcultural Photography.’ She is interested in photography as a transnational practice, through which transcultural identities are experimented with, configured and performed. Within this framework, she explores the role of personal studio and vernacular family photographs in visualising and constructing cross-cultural identities, within established Diasporic communities. The research focuses on a contemporary case study, in her ‘local’, which is loosely known as the ‘Anglo-Turkish’ Diasporic community, based in and around North London. Throughout the research Caroline reflects on her relationship to space and place, as she oscillates her position between being an insider and an outsider in her locale.
Caroline Molloy is a PhD research student Birkbeck, Centre of Photography, University of London, alongside which, she is a senior lecturer in Photography at Coventry University. She has an MA from the Royal College of Art in Photography, and an MA in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London. She has presented at many International Conferences including in Lisbon, Nicosia, Jaipur, Cumbria. She regularly writes about vernacular photographies for Photomonitor, New Art West Midlands and Visual Studies.
Amak Mahmoodian: Whispers of the Past
Amak Mahmoodian presented Shenasnameh and her recent project from Another Meeting, In Vein. These works reflect upon a connection between the personal and social identity, the memories within each photograph and the silent conversation with the photographs themselves. Amak explores her own identity through her projects and each project signifies a chapter of her life. For Amak, photographs are magical and full of mysteries.
Amak Mahmoodian is an Iranian artist and curator who lives in Bristol. She graduated from the University of South Wales in 2015 with a practice-based PhD in photography. Her body of work, Shenasnameh was published as a book in May 2016. It has been shortlisted for a number of awards, such as Time Magazine (2016) and Arthur Book, Rencontres Arles (2016). Her work has been widely exhibited internationally, including Nordic Light International Festival of Photography, Norway, Flowers Gallery, New York, Athens Photo Festival, Moscow Photobook Festival and Ffotogallery, Cardiff.
Lizzie Thynne: Class, Empire and Social Mobility: Traces and Absences in a Thynne Family Album
What was the relation between upward social mobility and service for the British Empire? How can this relationship be explored through the markers of class privilege evident in family photographs, documents and heirlooms as well as through the absent presences of previous generations who left little personal evidence of their lives? Lizzie Thynne presented initial ideas for a creative project investigating the impact of military service on the careers and opportunities for the men and women of her family who were connected with the Woolwich Arsenal in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Lizzie Thynne is Reader in Film at Sussex University. She is a filmmaker and her work has been widely shown on television and in galleries, exhibitions and festivals. Her recent feature documentaries include On the Border (2012), Brighton: Symphony of A City (2017) and Playing a Part (2005) on the surrealist photographer Claude Cahun, and her stepsister/lover/ collaborator, Marcel Moore. She was video director for Sisterhood and After: The Women’s Liberation Oral History project., for which she made 10 short films and an experimental sound-led work, Voices in Movement . She is currently developing an experimental film biopic on one of the first women documentary directors in the UK, Jill Craigie.