I am really struggling with this self-portraiture assignment. I’m not of the selfie generation where I feel the burning need to photograph myself throughout the day. I’m definitely more comfortable on the other side of the lens. I had originally planned on doing this assignment in an abstract format, but my tutor cautioned me about getting too involved with various techniques, so I’ve had to change tactics quite a bit.
I emigrated from South Africa to Canada twenty years ago and although so much time has passed, one is constantly reminded that one is an immigrant. The question arose in my mind “when does one cease to be an immigrant?” So I logged onto the SA Canada Facebook group to which I belong, occasionally giving advice to newcomers and enlisted some opinions from some of the folks in the group and also to refresh my memory of my immigration experiences. I posed four questions in the group:
when do you stop being an immigrant and become a “non-immigrant”? For this question I was after their conscious mental switch-over and not the legal route of becoming a Canadian citizen
when do you begin to identify with your new place of residence?
when does it become home?
when do you feel you lose ties with your old homeland?
I got a variety of answers, some not bothering with the questions at all, just voicing opinions on other subjects. But I did receive a number of very interesting responses and I plan on using these responses verbatim as captions for my photos.
I’ve just run my idea for Assignment 3 past my tutor and she has advised me to be careful of doing too many techniques and recommended that I look at Jim Goldberg’s Open See project, which I have done during my lunch hour today. So I’m doing to have a rethink on my assignment and come up with some new ideas. I’m still planning on keeping to my immigration theme that I originally identified, but will have to change tack with the presentation. I think I’ll probably go the absented self portrait route, or only include body parts as I really do not like being in front of the camera. Well, its back to the drawing board for me – this might be a blessing in disguise as our weather has turned quite nasty of late making shooting outdoors very unpleasant.
So I think I have come up with a theme that I want to tackle for Assignment 3, namely immigration. As an immigrant, one is continually confronted “newness”. New, unfamiliar grocery items, new methods of transportation to get used to, not to mention unfamiliar housing structures. I came from a country that uses brick and mortar to build houses to a country that builds with wood – and plywood at that!
On top of all the newness, one also has to cope with the sense of isolation, loneliness, missing one’s family, finding a job and so on. One has to battle against discrimination (yes, the immigrants are discriminated against albeit in extremely subtle ways) and one has to carve out a new identity and learn to blend in while still holding onto one’s own values and customs.
I think I’m going to continue in the abstract genre as well, which will hopefully help to convey the sense of dislocation one feels.
I made a few test images – they are all going to be another trial and error sessions and now I have to keep my fingers crossed that the torrential downpours are kept at bay for the next month or so, or at least every weekend.
I’m having a bit of a problem keeping my diary, as my life is pretty dull and routine now that I’m back at work again. It’s mainly eat, go to work, work, go home, eat, study, watch tv, read, sleep. So I’m trying to capture thoughts and memories of my immigration experience rather than my daily life currently, although I’m struggling to do that on a daily basis.