– being part of developmental and design projects abroad using the example of the travelling exhibition “CRAFT ACT – Philippine Design in Transition” –
Back when I was writing my thesis in Lebanon, it was clear to me that documentary photography would continue to be the focus of my attention even after finishing university. Inspired by the documentary photographer Joakim Eskildsen, I consider myself to be a facilitator who visually transports content through the medium of photography.
I came up with the idea of a photography project in the Philippines through my fellow student and friend Anna Kamphues, who had already worked there as a communications designer for the AFOS Foundation for Entrepreneurial Development Cooperation. There, she worked in an occupational training project with artisans and designers. This provided me with a chance to work within a project and network that had already been established as well as work with an NGO on-site.
The relationship of trust and the contact to individuals that Anna had established through her work with the AFOS Foundation were of great benefit to my photography. I was able to start working closely with the people right away, be it on the abaca farm in Guihulngan, with the weavers in La Libertad or watching paper beads being made in Iloilo City. I not only documented the work being done, but also the interpersonal relationships and everyday realities of the artisans and designers. The pictures were presented in the travelling exhibition “CRAFT ACT – Philippine Design in Transition” in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2014 and 2015. As a sub-project of the travelling exhibition, the photos enable the observer individual access to the lives and work of the people in the photographs. At the same time, the pictures in their entirety act as a visual link between handcrafted products, background information and cinematic short profiles, which were also shown during the exhibition.
Scholarship for advanced artistic training
My stay in the Philippines was completely funded by a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for advanced artistic training for university graduates. Applicants can win the scholarship up to two times in the first five years after graduation.
During my stay in the Philippines, I was also able to continue working on my portfolio, which is how I was able to get an assignment in cooperation with the AFOS Foundation taking photos for a fair trade project. Since then, my photographs from the travelling exhibition have been on display with the project “HoliCOW” in the Philippines.