I have been thinking the upcoming project in Lesvos quite a lot the last few weeks. Art based ethnography is a relatively unknown terrain for me which I currently introduce myself through the readings provided by Tormod and by personal research on the web. I must admit that I am really intrigued by the field and the new perspectives it gives you as an artist and as a researcher.
Since I have very little experience in doing ethnography I wanted during my staying on the island to further develop my skills in the field and understand better how ethnography is related to the arts.
I have been always interested in how people perceive their own surroundings, their familiar places. I found always myself studying the history of a place before visiting it to discover how different the reality is from what I read. I suppose this must be the case also regarding the island of Lesvos. Doing a small research on the island I found much interesting information about its history and its people and also a lot of information targeting mostly tourists. I am very interested in seeing how the island is really like away from the touristic masses. How do people living on the island perceive their surroundings? What do they consider important and what not? What are their stories? I want to talk with locals – maybe in the community of Kalloni- and try to see the region through their eyes. I want to get to know them and see what interesting stories they have to tell me about their community, about their village and their culture. Through their narrations, through their stories and throughout the observation of the region I will have the chance to better understand how these people live, what they care most about and what their land means to them.
Since is my first time on the island I thought of spending some days in getting familiar with it and getting to know the people, what they care about and see how I will personally experience the island. After a first impression with the local community, I will form a more specific approach and try to guide my observations and interviews into a more specific direction.
Personally, as I have already mentioned in previews posts, I am particularly interested in the dialect of the island and also to the local traditions, crafts and also stories of the island, real and fictional.
I have been always interested in collecting objects and studying their history. Creating archives as a way to tell a story. Studying the works of the artists presented by different reading related to the field I was particularly interested in the work of Mark Dion and the ways he uses archives of objects to tell a story, to show what is important and talk about what people choose to preserve, protect and display. Studying the works of Dion made me question the whole process of displaying things. What is considered as valuable to be displayed and what not? How objective the representations of the archives are? Can I create a representation of the life of Lesvos through objects and stories – maybe recordings, videos, or drawings – which the locals themselves will indicate to me as important? I want to see how the process of archiving can be related with ethnography.
In the following weeks before my arrival on the island, I want to further study ethnography and its relation with the arts in order to understand them better and better form my own project. The readings provided by the other participants of the course are really interesting and useful and I am looking forward to discussing them in person as well as collaborate with them.