The Australian Network of Student Anthropologists (ANSA) announces the ANSA Visual Ethnography Competition Winners for 2020!

In this competition, we asked ANSA members to reflect on the potentiality of creative and visual practice in the production of anthropological knowledge... in whatever form that might take. Something that was informed by their anthropological sensibility; the kind of image that they wouldn’t have made before, or known how to value.

It might have been a new way of seeing, a moment of insight, a decentring, a sensory encounter with other worlds, or a moment of social engagement. More than illustration, we asked entrants to see how images can shift our possibilities of apprehending the social in its complex particularities.

There were three categories this year: Film, Photography, and Graphic Art.

The winner in the film category was Mardi Reardon-Smith.
The photography category had tying entries by Carolyn West and Lucas Marie.
The graphic art entry was won by Ilya Abramov.

This is what AAS judges Lisa Wynn, Jennifer Deger and Sophie Chao had to say about the quality of the submissions, and each of the winning entries:


Jennifer, Sophie, and I are pleased to deliver you the results of the judges for ANSA's 2020 visual anthropology competition.  Well done organising this and eliciting some really wonderful entries into the competition! 

We hope that you'll let every entrant know that we enjoyed them all and encourage them to keep honing their visual anthropology skills and enter future competitions. 


Without further ado, here are our winning entries:

Please note: ANSA has permission to share and distribute these images for our own media resources. Any use by parties external to the ANSA team should seek permission from the relevant artists.

Film Winner:

Love Letter to the North
by Mardi Reardon-Smith

Judges comments:
Mardi Reardon-Smith has given us a deep dive into the rewards of slow looking. Privileging a locked off frame and long takes, the film allows events to unfold before the camera in their own pace. The rewards are many. Cattle and fire move through frame in shifting formations and contexts (though for one of the judges the scene with the door, the limping bloke with a cuppa and the sweeper who brings the third crutch into shot was a true highlight). As these shots accumulate, the ethnographer’s love for the "North" is transmitted; we are gifted a slow tumble of sense impressions and life glimpses. The resulting film hovers in a zone of intimate distance, which although at times frustrating, also seems apt, given the evocation of separation and longing that the title suggests.

Photography Winners (tied):

The WA Youth Breaking Champs
by Lucas Marie


Judges comments:
Lucas Marie's photo, "the WA Youth Breaking Champs," is a panoramic image that gives the viewer an immediate sense of the social terrain of this community of hip hop dancers.  The smirking face of the youth on the left of the frame makes eye contact with the photographer and that draws us into the scene, after which our eye moves to the right, just like the panorama's slow pan, past the DJ and the videographer and their equipment and on to a busy space of dancers (distorted by the panorama technology in a way that tells us of their fast movement), surrounded by a multiethnic crowd of children and parents watching and chatting amongst themselves.

Murex Lure
by Carolyn West

Judges comments:
In Carolyn West's "Murex Lure," this beautiful composite portrait of a city teaches us to see and make connections, as a specific history of place claims asserts itself through threads of startling blue.  A lovely rhythm is produced, as clues are laid to the place of Murex Blue (we learn the name in the submission discussion) in the Moroccan fishing town where West has been working.  As the submission discussion points out, finding out what’s going on here requires hanging around for longer than an Instagram moment, and so the case for ethnography’s long durée is made—while demonstrating ethnography’s potential to change the way we see the world.

Graphic Art Winner:

The Light of Other Worlds
by Ilya Abramov

Judges comments:
Ilya Ibramov’s graphic art offers a powerful and multi-layered reflection on the cosmological lifeworld of Indigenous Mansi in Western Siberia. Working through unexpected juxtapositions and multiplications, the photos stand out for their subtle editing and almost phantomatic quality – one that beautifully conjures the mythological consciousness, hidden signs, and spiritual lifeforces animating the Mansi world. Ilya plays creatively with scale, light and color in her graphic art. Strategic blurs and sharpness heighten the affective textures of the scenes depicted – a woman reading an oversized book, a man tanning an animal hide in a bed of lush grass, a young boy entering a hut in a shroud of smoke. The photos work together through innovative overlays of scenes, actions and figures, each blending movement and stasis almost seamlessly.

Ilya’s graphic art invites the viewer into the everyday life of Mansi while also conjuring the eeriness of their rapidly changing world. Each photo is both a representation of this changing world and a meditation on change itself. The greatest strength of Ilya’s graphic representation lies in the subtlety of its special effects, that do not immediately spring to view but rather require a gradual cultivation of attentiveness on the part of the beholder. By blending the real and the surreal in her graphic images, Ilya’s art highlights their profound entanglement in Mansi cosmology.