University of Sussex

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Representing immigration detainees: the juxtaposition of image and sound in 'Border Country'

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 07:38 authored by Melanie Friend
This paper discusses the four-year (2003-2007) research process towards my exhibition and publication "Border Country", which focuses on the experience of immigration detainees (appellant or "failed" asylum seekers) in the UK's "immigration removal centres". I discuss my earlier exhibition "Homes and Gardens: Documenting the Invisible" which focused on the repression in Kosovo under the Milo¿evic regime, and the difficulties of representing the "hidden violence" which led to the adoption of a particular sound/image structure for the exhibition. I discuss how I then chose to work with a similar sound/image framework for "Border Country" and the aesthetic and conceptual considerations involved. I discuss the decision to expand the focus of the exhibition from one individual detainee to eleven, and to omit the photographic portraits of detainees from the exhibition for ethical and conceptual reasons. I finally produced a juxtaposition of photographs of immigration removal centre landscapes and interiors (devoid of people) with a soundtrack of oral testimonies. The voices of individual detainees could be heard at listening stations within the gallery spaces or on the publication's audio CD. Within this research process I also discuss my interview methodology and questions of power imbalance between photographer/artist and incarcerated asylum seekers.


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FQS Forum: Qualitative Social Research









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  • Media and Film Publications


This was the lead article in the thematic issue of FQS Vol 11, No 2 (2010): Visualising Migration and Social Division: Insights From Social Sciences and the Visual Arts. FQS is a peer-reviewed multilingual online journal for qualitative research established in 1999. FQS thematic issues are published tri-annually in German, Spanish and English. FQS is an open-access journal. This article focuses on the research process for my 2007 RAE submission, Border Country.

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