Road of Mirrors
As we’ve been preparing for next week’s debut of our latest installation, “On the Road of Development,” I’ve been thinking quite a bit about perspective: what an anthropological perspective offers to discussions about issues of education, environment, infrastructure or economics, and, also, how we, as anthropologists and artists and event curators, can illuminate multiple perspectives on these topics. One of our goals for inviting participants to walk down the “road,” stopping to consider the perspectives presented at each topic station, is to show the many nuanced ways in which development changes are negotiated by individuals and communities around the world. Perspectives on perspectives. During the first class of every introductory Anthropology course I teach, I share with students that, if nothing else, my goal is that by sharing perspectives on topics that are different from their own, I can inspire them to hold up a mirror to their own perspective- consider how they came to see things in the way that they do- and maybe even begin to understand the value in other paths and perspectives. All my work as an anthropologist, including this collaborative installation, is essentially driven by this goal. These photographs were selected with these thoughts in mind: roads and mirrors, perspective and change. At the end of the road, it is unlikely that we will see in the same way as when we started.
mirrors and reflection allow us four perspectives in a moment- piecing all of these images together may tell us where we’ve been- and where we’re going.
when we think we know someone, it is important to make sure we have the whole picture. this divided portrait reminds us to avoid generalizations when we don’t have all the information- and to avoid being blinded by the sun.
there are so many factors that alter our perception as we move along the road of our everyday lives. learning how to navigate and understand these factors is one of the most important skills we learn in anthropological study- and in life.
the centrality of the anthropologist to their research is a source of constant reflection. removing oneself, it is impossible to tell the stories we are privileged to learn, but distorting or silencing those voices is to be avoided at all costs.
there are always different ways of perceiving a moment and the truth changes according to where you stand. the bright blue in the reflection of the dark sky and the rose amidst the dirt spray both serve as reminders of the two, or more, sides to a moment.
as a child, being in a car wash always seemed like I was stealing a secret perspective- I was an insider witnessing something I wasn’t supposed to see- cheating the system by being safe and dry amidst the soapy chaos. As anthropologists, we aim to see from both the inside and the outside- to build a holistic picture based on this dual, or multi-faceted, perspective.
as anthropologists, we are taught to reflect on our changing position, our evolving motivations, how we are perceived by others. as the roadside changes, so does the car shadow- adapting to the movement and the landscape- looking different every few seconds.
sunsets remind us of that days continue to pass. throughout the world, people continue to respond to changes as the days pass- adapting to new forces as part of the practice of their daily lives.
this abandoned mechanic’s shop, like many abandoned buildings, invite us to be archaeologists looking for clues about the lives of the people who once used these spaces. do we see them or just our own reflections?
Kristina Baines is our resident cool anthropologist. She’s been formally trained in applied, sociocultural, ecological and medical anthropology at Florida Atlantic University (BA, MA), the University of Oxford (MSc) and the University of South Florida (PhD). She has a strong interest in corn, how what we do in our environment makes us well, and using innovative methods to make anthropology relevant and accessible to a wide audience. You can find out more about how these interests translate into projects and pursuits by perusing the rest of our site, or you can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org