Interpreting the Construction of Place and Subjectivity through the Performance of Urban Photography: A Visual Narrative Research on the Critical Understanding of Art and Childhood
The paper focalizes on the results of a case study within a three-year collaborative research project between Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Elementary and Middle School Collasso i Gil. This is a public school in Barcelona’s old downtown with a 99% of students from different immigrant and multicultural backgrounds. Researchers understood that the visual arts had to become a critical force within this school. Following this general goal, the project pursued to provoke cultural dialogue, pluralism, and critical understanding within the very diverse community of children, to reflect on temporal-spatial relations enhancing high-order thinking and meaningful learning, and to experiment with a curriculum based on creative transubjective encounters between scholastic knowledge and children’s cultural memories and personal histories. Reflecting on a part of this project, the paper uses an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, which includes childhood studies, history of urban photography, migratory aesthetics, and performative pedagogy, to interpret how a group of sixth graders used aesthetic skills to combine their knowledge of contemporary photography with their senses of community, while they produced photo-narratives representing the public space and surrounding itineraries uniting home | community | school. A visible structure of many of these photographic narratives shows the tension between children’s desire to de-colonize public space from adult control and conflict, and children’s pleasures of free circulation, movement and random encounter. The narratives also demonstrate the relevance of lived and embodied space in the social formation and transformation of subjectivity and childhood.
Keywords: Childhood, Public Space/Place, Performative Pedagogy, Urban Photography, Migratory Aesthetics
Dr. Laura Trafí-Prats
Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Art, Section of Art Education, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee