The present work explores my practice as a photojournalist researching anthropological issues in the Muslim world.
It uses the Hawzas, the Muslim Shi’a seminaries, as my case study to invite a visually informed approach to the human sciences, and promote a practical usage of aesthetics. Because of the dramatic disproportion between their socio-cultural relevance and their under-representation, the Hawzas offer an extremely valuable opportunity to research issues of Orientalism and Orientalist visual archives. By questioning my own fieldwork practice alongside the visual signification of the Hawzas, I reconnect the pre-production to the post-production phase, and encompass within a shared outlook issues of both the Real and the represented.
I assess the communicative features of the photograph in relation to the verbal as a caption, and to the visual, in montage. I concurrently posit the photograph within wider multimedia and multi-audience practices as a stand-alone communicative device and part of a visual montage: I identify a phenomenological framework of analysis to urge the radical rethinking of personal and social agencies, and suggest the notion of communicative hubs for today’s globalised identities.
I explore the extent to which the digital is reshaping forms of visual-led and multimedia production, knowledge distribution and media consumption to finally contextualise the photograph as ‘semantics without ontology.’ I conclude advocating my ideas of the ‘Meta-Image’ and ‘Public Cultures 2.0’ as two integrated formats for visual-led communication, digital media practice, social engagement and public impact as specifically addressing Muslim cultures.