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Beyond text?Critical practices and sensory anthropology$
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Rupert Cox, Andrew Irving, and Christopher Wright

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719085055

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719085055.001.0001

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Spiti: some notes on the practice of documentary photography

Spiti: some notes on the practice of documentary photography

(p.33) 2. Spiti: some notes on the practice of documentary photography
Beyond text?

Patrick Sutherland

Manchester University Press

Patrick Sutherland has been taking photographs in the Spiti desert mountain valley, located high in the Himalayas, for nearly 25 years. What was initially envisioned as a one-off photographic field trip has developed into an obsessive, long-term, documentary project that is continually shaped by the challenging and complex relationships he has developed with the local communities who live there. As Sutherland notes “The practice of documentary photography is rarely straightforward. It is seldom about mechanically recording the world” but is a process in which images emerge from uncontrolled, unpredictable and random encounters, and necessitates a collusion with the contingencies—as well as structures—of social life, social relations and the surrounding environment. Embracing photo elicitation and collaborative formal portraiture, Sutherland observes that each time he returns to the Spiti Valley his understanding of the landscape and the people who live there shifts slightly, as does the meaning and narrative structure of the archive.

Keywords:   Spiti Valley, Obsession, Documentary Photography, Contingency, Image and Text

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