Elizabeth Ransom

Phd Student

Rain Cyanotype from the series Immigration Day © Elizabeth Ransom

A feminist perspective on the visual language of cultural hybridity; how women codify and translate the experience of transnationality through the use of alternative photographic processes.

The cultural hybridity of migrants is not easily represented; the blending of past and present lives is real and yet at the same time unreal. The cognitive emotional bond to place, also known as place attachment, that manifests from the occurrence of immigration, directly correlates with feelings of displacement, belonging, and in-betweenness. The levels of abstraction and layering of meaning that alternative photographic practices can provide allow for artists to express the fragmentary, indecipherable, experience of transnationality. Conventional forms of photography are heavily laden with the connotations of indexicality and frequently rely on the idea of capturing truth; some artists have found these methods incapable of visualising the experience of transnationality. In addition, it is invaluable to draw attention to the transnational experiences of women migrants. In the past research has overlooked the role women play in migration and past data collection has been biased and frequently from the perspective of men.

My research investigates how women use alternative photographic practices to discuss their experiences of transnational identity. As well as see if abstraction through alternative photographic practices can allow some women to communicate this experience more succinctly than other methods of photography. I use my own history of cultural hybridity as a reference in this research.

On the 21 December 1999 my family immigrated to the United States of America. This day has played a significant role in my cultural identity. It is from this day forward that I began to experience the constant oscillation of two selves. In my series Immigration Day I return to the site that I first lived exactly twenty years later. Through using cyanotypes and photograms I create a record of this personally significant location. Cataloguing the rain that fell on that day, the textures of the trees and the cracks in the pavement. Each impression fixed on to the light sensitive paper acts as a marker of time. Each image documenting the space providing evidence of its existence and a reminder of past memories.

Elizabeth Ransom’s research is supervised by Professor Jean Wainwright (Director of The Fine Art and Photography Research Centre, UCA) and Professor Anna Fox (Professor of Photography, UCA Farnham).