Writing Ambiguous Encounters: Punctuated Land

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper


This paper delivered in the panel ‘Writing Ambiguous Encounters’ at the English: Shared Futures 2022 conference presented photographic work and creative critical writing from my ongoing project entitled Punctuated Land that began in 2019. This project explores the quiet and enduring legacies of conflict and the historical and political forces that enable and perpetuate its normalisation through images and words. This is not to say that conflict takes place quietly, but rather that my focus lies in questioning the way we see and perceive conflict by examining how it infiltrates silently and violently into daily lives, homes and minds, and as it filters into and settles in cultural narratives. This is explored photographically by visiting the West Bank, the occupied territories of Palestine, and tracing Israel’s de facto borders with its neighbouring countries.

The landscape and its photographic representation become the means to encounter and record the impact of maintaining dominance over the land. Practices of control and discrimination in the landscape operate in the use of language, the interpretation of local laws and the exercise of power over access and restrictions. While the mechanisms of violence and occupation promote a vision of the land as desolate and barren, this project explores poetic and subtle visual methods to capture and highlight the traces of human presence. By observing natural entities, such as trees for example, I trace their capacity to construct myths, bear witness, record history and signify conflict, and make visible the dominate ideologies seeking to control these narratives.

I consider ambiguity in the reading of images as a generative tool, a certain opening for interpretations, and as a process of unlearning, of undoing the prescriptions limiting or dictating our engagement with images. In this paper, I draw from a variety of practices and writings to travel between contexts and myths. This decision is partly due to the limitations in the reading of photographic work in relation to its indexical referent, which often restricts poetic readings, interconnections and propositions I wish to address in my work. Embracing ambiguity, both in the photographic medium and in the way I depict the landscape, aims to open conversations and raise connotations, so that we could personally and collectively re-examine how we see images, history and the landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2022


  • photography
  • practice as research
  • conflict
  • art
  • artistic research


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  • Punctuated Land

    Ariel, D.

    1/08/19 → …

    Project: Research

  • English: Shared Futures 2022

    Dana Ariel (Organiser), Dawn Gaietto (Organiser), Anna Bunting-Branch (Speaker) & Aliyah Hussain (Speaker)

    8 Jul 20229 Jul 2022

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

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