“Witness” is a long-term collaborative video project that involves immigrant communities to create process-oriented autobiographical video portraits. Authorship is a key element of this project and it explores participatory and ethical approaches to the documentary format. An intentional methodology was developed with the assistance of artists, sociologists, and therapists. Collaborators are guided through the creative process so they may take artistic control over their portrayal and the content they want to share.
Individual contributors have the freedom to tell their own stories in the language of their choice and hear the healing power of their recorded testimonies.
Another important aspect of Witness is democratizing artwork, which will be achieved through the project’s distribution. It will be made accessible to a local and global audience through its exhibition in free community-based venues, projection in public gathering centers, website, and dedicated YouTube channel. A video tutorial is being developed and will be available on this website and on YouTube so that others may submit their video stories to the curated channel independently. In its virtual state, the project serves as a visual and oral history repository of the immigrant experience that is accessible to immigrant communities, researchers and the general public.
“Witness” investigates the quiet characteristics of resilience and dignity, power and joy present within pervasive cycles of struggle and the ways people overcome them. It complicates narratives by providing the human experience to otherwise abstract ideas and presents a visual platform for viewers to reflect on questions surrounding immigration.
This project affirms individual experiences, heals through the power of testimony, serves as a historical record, and sparks dialog in this pivotal time of national reflection.