In this essay I discuss the ethical and aesthetic issues involved in making a short auto/biographical documentary, Separation, about an improvised parenting relationship I had with a young Sudanese-Australian man. I contextualize my discussion through reference to representations of Sudanese-Australians in the media, and the tendency towards reductive allegorical representations. I propose that a poetic approach offers a possible way forward in representing aspects of life stories involving shared privacies and/or sensitive cultural material. This suggests important scholarly consideration of an ethics that is specific to visual representation or video/film methods. Such a consideration is applicable both to contexts in which the central concern is an art product or event, and in which the primary concern is research.
Opening Gates and Windows: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Making a Documentary-Poem
Paola Bilbrough is a filmmaker, poet, and independent researcher. Her work focuses on issues of identity, culture, representation, and social inclusion. Parts of this manuscript were presented at Visible Evidence International Documentary Conference 2012, Canberra and Framing Lives, International Auto/biographical Association Conference 2012, Canberra, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Paola Bilbrough; Opening Gates and Windows: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Making a Documentary-Poem. Departures in Critical Qualitative Research 1 September 2014; 3 (3): 298–313. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/dcqr.2014.3.3.298
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