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Documentaries, zines and a video installation: multimedia projects by students Visual Ethnography

From documentaries, zines and exhibitions to a video installation. Students of the Visual Ethnography master's programme pulled out all the stops to finish their studies in a fantastic way. For one year, the 23 students worked on their own multimedia projects. The screening of the projects took place in the weekend of 8 and 9 October during LUVE Fest, a festival in theatre de Generator in Leiden.

Individual freedom for projects

"There are not many master's programmes where you have so much individual freedom to set up your own project," says Wilke Geurds, one of the students and organisers of LUVE Fest. The students decided on a topic a year ago. During the master, these ideas were further developed. Both in thorough academic anthropological research and in multimedia projects. The research consisted of three months of ethnographic fieldwork. The collected notes, recordings and other materials were afterwards analysed. The results were processed into the zines, documentaries and video installations that were shown during LUVE Fest. 

Films and documentaries

The weekend was packed with films on a variety of topics. Saturday began with two films on climate change and its impact on the environment and the people who live there. The intimate atmosphere of the small venue provided great conversations between the makers and the audience. The other films on Saturday dealt with LGBTIQ athletes, polyamory, a special collaborative neighbourhood in Utrecht and immigrants living with students. There were also several films on Sunday: two films on music and dance, films on poetry, parkour, migrants in Malta and a film on indigenous ways of storytelling.

Multimedia projects

Traditionally, students have mainly made documentaries within the Visual Ethnography master specialisation, but in recent years, other visual expressions have increasingly been featured. Such is the case this year. Wilke: "To give extra attention to this year's multimedia projects, we put them together in one block." Through photos on the wall, baguettes from foils, costumes and crafts, an interactive experience was created for visitors.

A sample of the subjects of photo exhibitions on show: young people in so-called "disadvantaged neighbourhoods", post-colonial stories from CuraƧao and an insight into an interfaith meeting place. The exhibitions consisted not only of photos but also audio and video fragments.

Some students created an interactive website or a zine to present their research. During the LUVE-Fest, visitors were allowed to think about the concept of 'zine' and get to work with craft materials to make their zine. The Fest ended on Sunday evening with a video installation on men's and women's circles.

Film on endometriosis

Wilke herself made a film about the chronic disease endometriosis. "The moment when the whole audience watches your film is very special. Not only were my family and friends in the audience but also my participants had traveled from all over the Netherlands and Belgium to Leiden to attend the premiere of the film. During the Q&A, one of my participants gave her opinion and vision of the film process and how she had experienced it." This interaction during the Q&As allows students to further explain the value of anthropological research. "In my film, I had intimate conversations and filmed special moments. For example, I got to go with them to the hospital and saw how the women sometimes lay on the couch in pain. Building a relationship of trust with my participants was therefore central to my research."  

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