Chatting with the images: "it has to do with his life story"

Received: August 28, 2017

Acceptance: June 11, 2018


In this video I present the conversations of Claudio Oliveira, one of the visitors who passed through the exhibition of the students of the Visual and Image Anthropology course of the Social Sciences course of the ufrgs on the sensible ways of living in the city of Porto Alegre / RS (Brazil). Claudio's images, looks and talks are mixed with the images of the exhibition. Stories, spaces and times open up circular communication for new resonances from those who see them. I invite you to chat with the images.

Keywords: , , , ,

In Conversation With Images: "It's About Your Life Story"

In this video I present conversations with Claudio Oliveira, one of the visitors who came through the UFRGS Social-Sciences course Visual and Image-Based Anthropology students' exhibition on appreciable ways of living in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Claudio's images, gaze and conversations are mixed with images from the show. Stories, spaces and time foster circular communication for new resonances among those who see them. I invite you to converse with the images

Keywords: Visual communications, image anthropology, visual ethnography, image, biographical narrative.

The image allows, perhaps, a certain protagonism of the one who looks at it.
Claudio Oliveira
exhibition visitor

How are image narratives intertwined with biographical narratives and sociocultural contexts? How do we communicate with other images from our own images?

In this video I present Claudio Oliveira's conversations with the images from the exhibition Shared Ethnographies: Visual and Sound Narratives of Urban Living in Porto Alegre. How did those images affect him? Claudio says: “you don't have to live like prisoners”, hostages of urban violence; you have to have security. In raising his children, Claudio tries to balance protection and freedom. The freedom he had as a child. He believes that society today has little capacity to deal with social differences, prejudices and various types of violence. He thinks that artistic-cultural practices such as hip-hop that he saw in the exhibition, serve as "escape valves" for social problems. In his speech there is a reverberation of stories and images of a father concerned with the future of youth in Porto Alegre.

I communicated with twenty-four people who passed and observed the exhibition on the city of Porto Alegre and based on visual and image anthropology, with this ethnographic video I sought to exercise the ethical-aesthetic precepts of the encounter with the other, the communication mediated by devices techniques and the reflections that base the communication process as an encounter of otherness (Wagner, 2012; Ferraz [nd]) and a circular system (Bateson, 1981).

In the exhibition, encounters of otherness circulate and mix individual and collective stories and socio-cultural contexts. Each talk seems unique, but they all come together in the common sense of the sensible ways of urban living. "Communication is no longer defined as a simple act between two people, but as a circular system, an orchestra of which everyone is a part and where each one plays following an invisible score" (Bateson, 1981). The personal stories of the visitors to the exhibition and the images they find there are in communication, even without noticing it. Based on the relationships with urban green spaces, intergenerational temporal dialectics and sensitive forms (spirituality, politics, art), the cultural orchestra organizes the narratives and images of the interlocutors.

Claudio Oliveira lives with his family in a neighborhood south of Porto Alegre, the capital of the province. He maintains good relations with his older sister, who always protected him. She returned to live near her mother, in Santa Cruz do Sul, where the whole family was born. Her mother feels a great attachment to her origins and says she wants to die in her city. That desire is related to the driving force that drives us to live, the sacred land of Mother Nature. The origin, the land and the will. The symbolic return of the natural cycle in communion with the primal, first and strongest images, where its life was generated (Bachelard, 1991).

Santa Cruz do Sul has large rural areas close to the urban area, and as it grew, large lands used for agriculture began to be divided when their owners died. This was the case of the lands of Claudio's grandfather, which he visited when he was little and where he played to pick fruits and helped with the activities of the land. At night, I would play soccer with friends on the street, and when a car passed, everyone would stop, wait, and play again. He had a quiet childhood, free and in contact with nature, according to his biographical narrative. With the modern world, the ways of living in cities were transformed (Simmel, 1967). As well as the ways in which people relate and tell their daily stories (Benjamin, 1994).

Today Claudio is a father and lives in the metropolis, but in a more remote area with green around him. A place with less asphalt and cement, where people are calmer than in the center. For him, it is about another way of seeing the city. However, with so much violence, he is afraid to walk through those streets that were a place of fun and that have become a threat. Bad people are on the loose and good people trapped in their homes, hostages of fear.

Their daughter Carol is a teenager, studying, looking for internships, courses, and ends up circulating on the streets, something that worries her parents. Despite his concern for the future of young people, Claudio tries to balance protection from urban violence and freedom for his children to develop and be happy. He did not have a good relationship with his father and that is why he seeks to be a better and different father.

In the exhibition, Carol sees the word rururbano, does not understand and asks her father the meaning. Very attentive and careful (following his image of the ideal father), he explains that rururbano is a rural area within the urban perimeter and tells that Porto Alegre is one of the Brazilian capitals with more rurban area. Claudio worked with transportation and knows many places inside and outside the city. For Walter Benjamin (1994), knowing many places as a traveler, having wisdom (“the epic side of the truth”), giving advice and being practical, are qualities of a “good storyteller”.

Claudio is, and with his daughter he is even more so. These and other stories were told during the ethnographic encounters that are part of my doctoral research “De prosa com as imagens” (“Talk with images”). The research seeks that visual, sound and written narratives dialogue with each other, with the intention of questioning textual hegemony as the only form of knowledge (MacDougall, 2006; Pink, 2002; Eckert and Rocha, 2016).

Claudio and Carol went through the exhibition. They both interacted with the images in the hall and each stopped at different places to make their observation. I approached her with the camera and explained that I was participating in the exhibition doing research to find out what most caught the visitors' attention and the first thing that came to mind when they saw those images. She, with some shyness, agreed to participate by calling her father to help her, and he was a generous storyteller and open to participate in all stages.

Later I met Claudio in the same place where we met. I gave him the DVD with the video of the exhibition, thus returning the images that belonged to him (Didi-Huberman, 2015). I chose not to film that restitution day, considering the cameraless encounters equally powerful in order to get to know and understand each other better, and that he understood the investigation itself and the stories that marked our encounters. He was moved by telling stories of his daughter Carol, something I did not perceive the next day, on camera, when he narrated her biography and commented on her video at the exhibition.

My emotion was already when I discovered that Claudio and I were born in the same city, on the same day of the same month, and we have many biographical stories in common. Affectivity and connection with the other in the field do not exist by chance. The feeling of identification is one of the elements present in the experiences of otherness, the basis of ethnographic communication. Claudio also sensibly touches the core of this research with phrases like “There I think it has to do with your life story, with your knowledge, from where you look; that is, who are you, everything you bring as an experience ”. For this reason, for him, “the image allows, perhaps, a certain prominence for the person who looks at it”.

With this key idea, Claudio presents us with the power of the gaze and the interior of the subject to understand what is outside, without separating interior / exterior. As integral human beings, we are facing a landscape (natural or artistic) and immediately a contemplative and affective experience arises. At the same time, there is a mental disposition towards a landscape that is “only the disposition of this landscape and can never be that of any other, although both can be understood in the general concept” (Simmel, 2009: 16).

Relations with images work in the same emotional way. Faced with the images of the exhibition, what affects and transpires in the talks is Claudio's sensitivity. It is even the interior images that lead the protagonist through the exhibition space.

The talk with the images is, therefore, an experience of circular communication that constellates stories and images of how the urban is lived, the multiple spatialities and temporalities present in the exhibition, its visitors and the contexts of interaction.

For the construction of the visual narrative, I considered the concepts of “temporal rhythms”, by Eckert and Rocha (2013), and of “fragments” by Benjamin (2004). The video intersperses the narratives of the exhibition with those of the small room of the Faculty of Education of the ufrgs, where Claudio studied Pedagogy. The narrative intention to constellate collections of other images in images (Bachelard, 1988; Durand, 2001; Eckert and Rocha, 2013) is inserted in the sense of refiguring the narrative, as proposed by Paul Ricoeur (1994), in the three mimetic acts. Stories and images flow in continuous processes of temporal and spatial discontinuities. Some overlap others, intersect, move, complement each other and are stressed.

Claudio commented on the different projects of the collective exhibition, but here I only present his narratives based on the three exhibitions that most caught his attention: “Huerta Comunitaria”, “Lamiendo la ciudad” and “Feria de Hip Hop”. These, along with six other projects, make up the collective exhibition carried out by the students of the Visual and Image Anthropology subject, dictated in the first semester of 2016 in the Social Sciences course of the ufrgs (Porto Alegre /rs/ Brazil) by the coordinating professor Cornelia Eckert. It had the participation of researchers from Navisual, curated by the anthropologist Rafael Derois, and the support of the Unifoto Project, of the Department of Cultural Diffusion of the Pro-rectorate of Extension of the ufrgs and the Department of Anthropology, Postgraduate Program in Social Anthropology, Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences.

The research time was paced with the classes and both brought to the prestigious space of the university rectory the art of the streets, the peripheries, the walls, the community gardens and of artists who make their daily experiences rhythms of resistance, struggle and transformation. The artistic-urban interventions received the contributions of narratives and memories of the people who passed through the exhibition and were marked (in the sense of MacDougall's imprints, 2006) by the poetics of the aesthetic and sensitive experiences of the encounter with the other and with himself. themselves. Times and spaces of reconfigurations and circular reversibilities.

By inviting his daughter to follow their paths together (“Let's go, daughter?”), Claudio opens up for the audience the movement of life that follows and invites us to walk side by side. In this video, Claudio's images, looks and talks are mixed with the images of the exhibition and the city, protagonists who now open up circular communication for new reverberations of those who see them. And to you, what was it that caught your attention in this video and what occurred to you when you saw it? I invite you to chat with the images.

Data sheet

Author: Roberta Simon

Video title: Chatting with the images: "it has to do with his life story"

Link for the video on YouTube:

Direction, investigation, script and camera operation: Roberta Simon

Mounting: Felipe Soilo

Equipment: Sony handycam hybrid; Sony ICD-PX440 digital voice recorder.

Communication research orientation: Carlos Gerbase

Research Orientation in Anthropology: Cornelia Eckert and Ana Luiza C. Rocha

Music of: Marcus simon

Year of production: 2016/2017

Material format: digital

Duration: 00:10:34

Exhibition data:

Title: Shared Ethnographies: Visual and Sound Narratives of Urban Living in Porto Alegre

Dates: 08/23/2016 to 09/19/2016

Local: Hall of the Rector's Office of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (ufrgs)

Curator: Rafael Derois dos Santos

Project and image authors: Inhabitants of Porto Alegre / RS (Brazil). Researchers at the Center for Visual Anthropology (Navisual) and the Bank of Images and Visual Effects (Biev) (Postgraduate Program of the Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences /ufrgs): Camila Braz, Cornelia Eckert, Fabrício Barreto, Guillermo Gómez, Jose Luis Abalos Junior, Manoel Claudio da Rocha, Roberta Simon, Rumi Kubo, Yuri Schonardie Rapkiewicz

More details and pictures:

Class of Visual Anthropology students, 2016/1, in the course of Social Sciences / Department of Anthropology (Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences / Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul): Adriana Cunha, Alexandre Mendes, Ana Paula Barros, Ânderson Fragozo, Carmem Guardiola, Carolina Kneipp, Daniela Becker, Daviana M. Ferreira, Ellen Tabarkiewicz, Felipe Rodrigues, Francisco Gonzaga, Gabriela Thomaz, Gilmar Santos da Rosa, Javier Llanes Calixto, Jonathan Rocha , José Thiago Ruhee, Júlia Menin, Larissa Signor Alvares, Maitê Medeiros Passos, Matheus Cervo, Maurem Fronza da Silva, Nara Marcia Rech, Natalia Seeger Duarte, Patrick Dias Gomes, Ricardo Colar, Ricardo Racic, Roberta Deroma, Sara Menezes, Simone Azambuja , Solana Zandonai, Thainan Piuco, Tiago Barradas Morés, Vinicius Riskalla

Teacher collaboration: Aline Rochedo (PhD student ppgas ufrgs), Ana Elisa Freitas (teacher ufpr), Ana Luiza Carvalho da Rocha (teacher biev ppgas ifch ufrgs), Ana Luiza G. Koehler (urban planner and cartoonist ufrgs), Antônio Augusto Bueno (plastic artist), Diogo Dubiela (student of the Social Sciences course ufrgs), Fernanda Chemale (photographer), Hopi Chapman (filmmaker), Jeniffer Cuty (teacher ufrgs), Luiz Eduardo Achutti (teacher ufrgs), Mário Eugênio Saretta Poglia (PhD student ppgas ifch ufrgs), Olavo Ramalho Marques (teacher ufrgs), Priscila Farfan Barroso (PhD student ppgas ifch ufrgs), Thais Fernandes (filmmaker).

Institutional supports

capes, biev and navisual (ppgas / ufrgs), unifoto Cultural Diffusion Dep. (prorext / ufrgs), kinesofia, gim, geisc (phamecos / pucrs)


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