A lecture on visual auto-ethnography by Dr. Linda Lai / Open Forum #1


Auto-ethnography [field study about oneself] is by definition an experimental form of ethnography. According to Catherine Russell, many key examples of experimental cinema and autobiographical films could be understood as auto-ethnography. Linda Lai will discuss this view, trace such a history, and shed light on the notion of auto-ethnography in the practice of contemporary art. Various examples by famous artists and Lai’s own video work will be used for illustration.




Title of talk: “Autoethnography: experimental ethnography / a hybrid creative practice”

1:00 – 3:00pm / Saturday, March 6, 2010
1st floor, no. 99 Queen’s Road East, Wanchai
Studio’s open house session will begin at 12:30pm. Come early to have a cup of tea (or coffee).

Outline of talk:
│The basic problematic: the meeting of ethnographic research and contemporary art practice
│What is autoethnography?
│‘Self’ in auto-ethnography
│Autoethnography as an experimental action
│Autoethnographic methods: 3 kinds of visual autoethnography for the “I”
│Methods: personal and experimental cinema
│Methods: Autobiography – Resisting autobiography – ‘Outlaw’ genres of autobiography
│Jo Spence – a case study for multiple strategies in autobiography
│Ethnographic methods: frames of culture, forms of writing
│From research to art-making: mixed strategies / archiving / performance & performative strategies
│Sophie Calle’s Take Care of Yourself – a case study

Creative/film/video works discussed:
film/video: News from Home (1976 Chantel Akerman), Sans Soleil (1983 Chris Marker), The Ties That Blind (1985 Su Friedrich), I Told Them My Camera was On (2005 Linda Lai), Excitable Speech: all about Cinderella (2008 Linda Lai)
contemporary art: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s multimedia Dictee (1982), Gerard Richter’s Atlas (1962-2006), Jo Spence’s Nottingham Cancer Project and Picture of Health ? Part 1 and Part 3, Sophie Calle’s Double Game and Take Care of Yourself
comics: 《媽媽的抽屜在最低:性、 性別、性別政治》(莉莉), Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (1986 and 1991, 2 volumes, Art Spiegelman), Loving in the War Years: lo que nunca pasó por sus labios (1983 Cherríe Moraga), Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987 Gloria Anzaldúa )
novels《紀實與虛構》jishi yu xugou (2002 王安憶 Wang Anyi)