The WA Youth Breaking Champs
This panorama photograph (taken on my iPhone) depicts a moment during a Breakdancing competition that I attended in 2015 as part of my PhD fieldwork in Perth, Western Australia. The event was held at the Cockburn Youth Centre in Success, a suburb 24 km’s south of the Perth CBD, and featured many local Hip Hop dancers and artists from across Western Australia.
This photograph was one of many taken as part of my PhD field-research, which involved a multisided ethnographic study of Hip Hop dancers across three cities: New York, Osaka and Perth. My fieldwork involved attending many local Hip Hop dance events and gatherings. Typically I would try to capture what was happening during these events on my iPhone, through the use of photographs, voice memos and writing fieldnotes on scraps of paper. The photographs and notes taken would then inform the production of further ethnographic writing and analysis.
Throughout the thesis I used many of the photographic images I took to illuminate specific moments and experiences I encountered in the field, specifically illustrating the kinds of people, places and spaces in which Hip Hop dance cultures were being produced, negotiated and expressed.
It is important to note that photographs depicts only a partial and incomplete snapshot. However I embrace the partiality of these photographs and of the moments that they depict, seeing them not as complete representations of local Hip Hop dance scenes or cultures, but rather as insights into how Hip Hop dance artists express and experience Hip Hop within their own local and social contexts. This notion of a partial or incomplete representation of Hip Hop a large part of my broader anthropological analysis in the PhD, as my thesis argued that Hip Hop culture is an ever-changing, diverse and dynamic field, one that cannot easily be defined or characterised in any rigid or strict sense.