Publicerat 25 november, 2014

Being the One Telling the Story

In the documentary photography project Us and Them, eight Umeå photographers have invited others to participate in the creation process to shake up ingrained notions about who sees, and who is seen. Their exhibition opens at Västerbottens Museum on 30 November.

In a collaboration based on eight independent projects, Us and Them democratises control over the narrative and challenges the accepted role of the photographer. It gives “Them” the tools to make their own lives visible – a view from the inside and a view from the outside in two parallel creative processes.

Us and Them shakes up ingrained notions about who sees, and who is seen. By inviting others to participate in the creation process, the eight professional photographers Elin Berge, David Dahlberg, Alexandra Ellis, Malin Grönborg, Johan Gunséus, Sara Lindquist, Linda Thompson and Lars Öberg, want to nuance the picture of our time and of people’s lives using documentary photography.

”What started this off was the fact that we realised lots of people now have access to photography as a tool – so what would happen if the subjects themselves started taking photos?,” says Lars Öberg, one of the photographers. ”This could lead to things being seen which subjects feel are important, things which I have no insight into in my role as photographer.”

By allowing the subject to be the photographer, the project explores themes of power and narrative. An already living process for many users of Facebook, Instagram and other social media. Us and Them digs deeper into these themes and raises questions about the role of contemporary documentary photography for both professional and other users of the photographic image.

Sara Lindquist, one of the professional photographers taking part, has focused on violence in relationships in her subproject Nobody Can Get Us Here. Participants have photographed places where they feel safe.

In his subproject What We See, Lars Öberg investigates how those with extremely poor sight see the world. ”It’s all about being involved. Not just having someone tell a story, but being the one telling the story,” says Lars Öberg.

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