Featured post

Contemporary Narratives - Photography: A Short Guide to History, Theory, and Practice: Online Course Starting April 27th 2022

  Sign up to my new series of talks on Contemporary Narratives - Photography: A Short Guide to History, Theory, and Practice .  Starts on Ap...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Random Conversations #9 - Positive Depictions

D: I want to show the positive side of asylum seekers..

Me: The positive side?

D: It's important to have positive depictions - to show that they aren't all sitting around on benefits being depressed and watching tv..

Me: And what happened?

D: Well, it was disheartening. There weren't many positive depictions to show.

Me: What do you mean by positive depictions?

D: Well, I wanted to show them doing normal things and being being happyand not just sitting at home watching TV and being depressed.

Me: But...

D: The problem was they weren't doing normal things or being happy. They just sat at home watching TV being depressed.And smoking. When they had the money.

Me: So who did you photograph?

D: Asylum seekers.

Me: Yes, but who are they? What are their stories?

D: There's all sorts. Most of them are lovely, but another problem is I don't really like some of them.

Me: Why's that a problem?

D: Because I think that I should. If I was compassionate I would like them all. Don't get me wrong, I like most of them but I just can't get on with everybody. Some of the guys  are just horrible.

Me: As with everybody.

D: I suppose so, but it doesn't feel that way. The other problem is that some of them shouldn't really be here. They are the ones who got out of their country because of connections and money. They drive around in cars their uncles bought them.

Me: You're sounding like the Daily Mail here.

D: It's true for some of them. They're never going to contribute anything.

Me: Same as with everyone.

D: Maybe and I suppose that's just a few of them. But the biggest problem is it's just so depressing most of the time. The ones who should be here are depressed beyond belief and have experienced all these terrible things that defy human understanding. It's hard to see anything positive in that.

Me: What are their stories?

D: Well, there was one guy from Iraq. All his immediate family  had been killed, he thought he was going to be next, so he came to England overland. So now he's in this flat getting £40 a week to live on, half of which he spends on fags. And all he does is sit there depressed, worrying about what's going to happen to him.

Me: What is going to happen to him?

D: I don't know. He's waiting for his claim to go through. He's in this limbo where nothing is happening. He's got stomach ulcers from the stress of it all. He thinks he's going to get sent back and he doesn't trust anyone. He can't sleep at night and he's on all these antidepressants.And he will get sent back and he shouldn't be sent back.

Me: Why don't you photograph that?

D: Because it's not positive.

Me: Why does it have to be positive? There's nothing positive about what he's going through.

D: But I want the project to be positive. There are loads of negative portrayals of asylum seekers.

Me: Truthful can be positive and I think you have to be truthful about what these people are going through, you have to look at the good and the bad. And if it's all bad, then that's part of the story. And it sounds to me like it's all bad.

 D: Oh it's not all bad. He's actually a really nice guy.

Me: So isn't that positive?

D: I don't know. Is it? Do you have to be positive to be positive?


Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying these conversations hugely. Thanks for sharing

colin pantall said...

Thanks Luke. Much appreciated.