Dressing to match

Last night I staggered back into Cardiff after attending the British Society of Criminology‘s conference in Liverpool – a wonderful experience, where I met loads of lovely people, and had a few interesting ideas, and also had rather a lot of trouble sleeping due to the heat. I also won the poster competition. If you want to see/download the poster, there’s a link here: HBV Culture or Kinship 72dpi. It’s largely based on the ideas and findings you’ll find in this casual post, and there’s a proper paper forthcoming.

Kamaran Najm Ibrahim

I did take the competition really seriously, aiming to win – the design took several weeks, and I was able to draw on my unusual skillset, due to having a postgrad in publishing and some graphic design experience.I wanted to see what I could do with the rather underdeveloped field of research poster design1.

While I’m chuffed of course, I feel sad whenever I look at it. The work is organised around a stunning and impactful piece of art by professional photographer Kamaran Najm Ibrahim. It shows a graveyard, but if you look closely, you can see this shows the delivery of unclaimed women’s bodies for burial by the state; a melancholy reflection on the quotidian nature of the murders and suicides of Kurdish women. I particularly like the way the central figure distracts you from the tarp-wrapped corpses to the side at first, so that when you notice them it feels shocking.

As soon as I saw this photograph on the Metrography website, I knew I had to use it in my work. After a few pestering emails and phone calls (enlisting the help of my good friend Izaddin Rasool) Kamaran generously gave me permission to use his work, and threw in some other images to boot. Out of kindness to a stranger.

Reports from AFP suggested he had been killed in fighting on June 12th 2014, between Kurdish Peshmerga and ISIS militia around the city of Kirkuk. However, social media reports said different: that he had been captured by ISIS, or that he was injured but in hospital. At this point I can’t say much more: pages from the major media sources which had reported his death previously now lead to 404 errors, but there is nothing positive saying he is alive either.

I deeply hope that the Twitter reports are correct, and that he is safe and recovering and will survive to use his talent to continue to document Iraq’s multiplicity. Here is Kamaran speaking at TED in Arbil.

  1. The diagrams were created in Illustrator, and the mise-en-page was done in InDesign. The colour scheme was sampled from the photograph, and the map diagram at the top was developed from this free resource, which was in itself a month of work, given the research behind it.I did a couple of things to stretch the form a bit – one was no bibliography, because it always strikes me as odd and space-wasting to put a bibliography on a poster, so instead there’s a list of ‘influences’ to pay my theoretical dues. Another thing I am pleased with, and that’s numbering the diagrams very clearly and citing them in the text, which I think works well to organise the text/diagram thing. Also, I tried to keep clean eyelines, since a lot of research posters are very poor on this. Finally, I didn’t want anything too flashy or gimmicky due to the seriousness of the issue so the columns and typography are fairly subdued. 

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