Recently finished conducting the three interviews from my previous module, I was able to photograph the subjects but not able to make the time to interview them. I used these interviews as a test to gauge my interview style and process. I was not initially sure what to ask as I have never really interviewed anyone before but I thought I would start with the basics, your name, when you migrated, country of origin and why you migrated.
The interviews I initially felt were important to the work as a still image does not really tell you much about a subject besides superficial elements, height, hair and eye colour etc.. So I concluded that the interviews would help give depth to the subjects and allow the viewer or reader of the work to connect with the subject more. If I was to display this in a gallery space I would include headphone at each image to allow for pieces of the audio interviews to play on repeat. Seeing and hear someone, I think, allows for a deeper connection. My parents both passed away and from cancer, my father first, and I was always disappointed that I never recorded his voice. I did with my mother and combining that with stills images helps humanize and build a deeper connection for me than just one of the mediums could ever do.
I have also decided on using this image when going over the synopsis:
I show the subjects the two image on one sheet of paper and explain my family’s only migration story I know or at least the pieces of it I know. The smaller image on the left is a portrait of my paternal grandfather in Poland, it is worn and tattered and he is single, date of image I am not sure. The second image is paternal grandfather again in Canada with a wife and two kids most likely in 1949, given the age of my father in the picture. What I am curious about is what happened in-between, how and why did he leave Poland? This is a piece of my history that is lost and I think something that should not be forgotten by any family and I think by a community or a country. I also think photography and audio is a great way to capture these narratives, I have always liked what Diane Arbus said about photography for documenting subject, in her project American Rites, Manners and Customs, she want to gather them, like everybody's grandmother putting up preserves, because they will have been so beautiful. “ (Jeu de Paume, 2012)
synopsis: migration narratives
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by collecting, and people. From an early age, I collected, bugs, comics, etc., seeing items put together as a whole fascinated me. My other fascination is people, I love hearing people’s stories, who they are, where they came from and what makes them tick. I believe that listening to other’s stories, and sharing your own, leads to mutual understanding, friendship, and peace. I believe we are all, at our most basic level, looking for the same things.
For this project, I first became curious about my own family’s story of migration. Unfortunately, this story had been lost, my relatives who migrated have passed on and my family knows very little of this story. Migration I was told, was a thing to be forgotten and assimilation was key to acceptance into this new country. Next, I asked my friends who recently migrated to Canada and many were reluctant to tell me their migration stories. For me this was perplexing, migration, leaving your home and moving to a new country, is a pivotal point in a person’s and a family’s history, and something I think should be remembered and shared.
Since I began documenting these stories and researching migration I realize how harrowing these stories are, and how interconnected migration is to globalization, environmental issues, poverty, economic disparity, and violence. For me, although the research is enlightening, statistics and government policies are just words on a page. I want to make a human connection by documenting first hand the stories of people’s migration, to celebrate their struggles and achievements.
questions: migration narratives
What is your name?
Your age? (only if you mind sharing)
When did you migrate?
What country did you migrate from?
Tell me about the country you migrated from?
Tell me your migration story, why did you migrate to Canada, how did you get here?
What has your experience been like in Canada?
What do you hope for in this new country?
Jeu de Paume (2012) Diane Arbus Press Kit. Available at: http://www.jeudepaume.org/pdf/PR_DianeArbus.pdf [Accessed: 15 August, 2018].
Machinski, J. (2018) Portraits of My Paternal Grandfather & Family, Machinski. January 2018. Unpublished.