Contingency in Madagascar (English Version)

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The full text version of this book will be available through Intellect Books, Critical Photography Series. Details will be available through the Library Catalogue ( once published. This book is about travelling, writing and taking photos. Max Pam the photographer travelled with Stephen Muecke, writer and student of cultures, in Madagascar in 2003. As they worked together, the idea of contingency took root. Contingency means taking the risk of making up a theory as one goes along, for how can you import a ready-made model into the middle of someone else’s somewhere? The opposite to necessity, it describes a creative attitude of embracing chance, the ‘stray fact’, capturing the moment, and being ‘touched’ by odd feelings. Following chance encounters, the photographer and the writer rediscover (not without irony) beauty and wisdom in one of the world’s poorest countries, little known to Australians. Crucial for travel writing is the point of view (‘where you are coming from’), how you construe the identity of the other, and the responsibilities of reportage. Contingency is also a handy theory for photography, because in the precise moment of composition, forces, forms, concepts and feelings converge like vectors, and are part of an ongoing process of networking words, images, people and things.
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