A Walk in their Shoes by Brian Brivati and Meg Jensen

TSRN were invited to submit an exhibit for King’s College London’s “Dear Diary: A Celebration of Diaries and their Digital Descendants” exhibition. We asked a number of front-line human rights workers for a filmed diary, a record of a Day in their Shoes.

We gave no other instruction or direction about what they should film or how, or how long their final diary should be. In response we received the six pieces of film in different formats; some recorded live on smart phones, some constituting still images with recorded transcripts.

The stories are compelling: they are personal, confessional and revelatory of individual suffering and traumatic experience. They are deeply human. Some diarists wanted to share their identities and others did not.

Some films take the form of political appeal, humanitarian outreach and philosophical enquiry. In one case, the film diary is simply a fly on the wall view of a day in the life of one Syrian woman’s day with her family in Lebanon, with virtually no editorial intervention. Despite these differences, the diary form surfaces in each of these shapes and works to emphasise the value of individual voice and its ability to reach out across the otherwise impassable chasm between our experiences and theirs.

The story telling form helps compassion fatigue disappear as the unimaginable statistics become men, women and children, and “refugees” a real voice sounding in our heads. Living their lives in the spaces between states.

All films can be viewed on the Publications section of our website: https://tsrnetwork.org/news-network/publications/

Dear Diary: A Celebration of Diaries and their Digital Descendants – Inigo Rooms, King’s College London, Somerset House East Wing – Curated by Professor Clare Brant and Dr Polly North
26 May – 7 July 2017

Dear Diary is an exhibition that celebrates diaries and the many ways in which diarists capture human experience. Revealing the extraordinary and the everyday in individual lives, diaries often provide a safe space for people to confide their successes and disappointments, pleasures and pressures, loves and losses. The exhibition explores what motivates diarists and charts the ways in which paper diaries have been joined by phones and tablets as our means of keeping track of daily life. Bringing together manuscript and online diaries, from pre-modern almanacs to the latest trend of lifelogging, the exhibition considers how digital forms can be seen as descendants of traditional diaries rather than their destroyers.

Profound, prosaic and surprising, diaries give unique accounts of individual lives, offer interpretations of the world and add new and thought-provoking dimensions to social history.