William B. Plowman April 29, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
Tags: United States
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan at the “White Pride Festival”, Indiana 2002
William B. Plowman (b. 1969, USA) is represented by REDUX and has covered stories in Latin America, Africa, Central Asia and the United States. William’s photographs can be seen in the world’s leading news & NGO publications including: le Figaro, Der Spiegel, Newsweek, Time, The Financial Times, CNN, MSF and Reporters Without Borders among others. He is the weekly contributing photographer for NBC’s political talk show Meet the Press and his work is featured in the film Ghosts of Cite Soleil documenting the 2004 war in Haiti. His work has been recognized by the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, POYi and the Gordon Parks Photography Competition. William is currently based in Washington, D.C. and working on a long-term project in Gary, Indiana.
About the Photograph:
“I made this photograph very early in my career in 2002. I had been researching white supremacy groups in the United States for a few months when I came across a brief mention of an event to be held on a farm in Osceloa, Indiana. It was billed as a sort of summit within the racial separatist and white supremacist communities. A three day event where leaders and supporters from around the country like the Ku Klux Klan, White Aryan Resistance (WAR) The National Socialists Party, The Outlaw Hammerskins, Blood & Honor, Aryan Nations and others would gather to meet, set goals and coordinate future events. I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with the organizer and explained my intentions as a documentary photographer. He was very skeptical, as you would imagine. In the end I was the only journalist allowed on the farm, where I pitched my tent and would ultimately photograph for three days. While I’m very interested in this moment, this photograph, for my own reasons, I’ve always liked that it allows the viewer to bring their own experience to bear in its analysis.”
Joshua Cogan April 25, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in India.
Jewish Graveyard in Cochin, Kerala State, India 2011
Joshua Cogan (b. 1984, United States) is a photographer and anthropologist whose work focuses on documenting vanishing cultures, and those in transition. He has also used technology and traditional storytelling for exploring social issues with photography and new media. In addition to his personal work on Diaspora Judaism in India, Ethiopia and Israel, Joshua has pioneered a number of innovative projects with ad agencies and NGO’s alike. He has won an Emmy in New Approaches to Storytelling for his collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; Live Hope Love, a revelatory look at the silenced voices of HIV-positive Jamaicans enduring the stigmas of their society. His work has been published in the New Yorker, VQR, GQ, Washington Post, and the New York Times among others.
About the Photograph:
“Sometimes there is a experience that changes the whole story, and allows you to understand the purpose of the story you might be “trying” to tell. The picture is from Cochin, India in the state of Kerala. I had gone there to explore the community of Jews that had settled there as spice traders around the time of King Solomon. The members of the community had become quite small in number and I was struggling with how to tell the story of the remaining members and the impact the community had on the area. I began to look for remnants of material culture, and I found them. Abandoned Synagogues, grown over Mikvehs and old pieces of Judaica scattered about curio shops. It was at the Jewish Graveyard that I met four young men playing cards along the wall. They took an interest in me, and began to ask me questions about the project. I told them what I was up to and they assured me that they had something interesting to show me. It was Friday night, and I had been desperate to spend a sabbath with the Jewish Community, and spent most of the day asking them if there would be the required number of Jew’s for a service in the synagogue that night. Often it would require travelers and tourists to fulfill the needed ten, and it seemed to me that this was a very important part of the story.”
“I told the young men I would come with them, but only if the there would be no service that night. I ran back to the shul and saw from the dim lights that indeed there would be no service. And so I wandered back to where the men were playing and they led me to a grave that was far outside the walls and inside one of the chawl villages. Once there I saw this grave, it had Hebrew script but had essentially been “Hindu-ized” painted with bright colors, a stupa added to the top, and candle burnish and marigolds covered it. This was different than the way Jewish graves are generally treated and I immediately was fascinated by what I was observing, I asked my guides, but they could provide little context. It was then the these young men, of both Hindu and Muslim faith came over to begin lighting candles. When I asked them why…the simply replied “Shabbat”. About a week later I took an Israeli friend to translate that writing on the grave for me. It was a holy man named Avram Motah, a Kabbalist from somewhere in the middle east that had traveled to Cochin in the 16th century. It was revealed that he was considered such a pious man, that he has become a symbol to all faith communities of the island.”
Lindsay Mackenzie April 22, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Algeria.
Legislative elections, Algeria 2012
Lindsay Mackenzie (b.1984, Canada) is a freelance photo and multimedia journalist from Vancouver, Canada, currently based between Tunisia and rural Catalonia. After completing a BA in Geography in 2005 she received a Watson Fellowship — a one-year grant for independent study and travel. Lindsay completed an MA in Journalism in 2011 and spent the last two years covering the Arab Spring and transitions in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen. She works regularly for The National and has also had work published in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Globe and Mail, El Pais and elsewhere. In 2012 Lindsay was named a Emerging Photographer by the Magenta Foundation and received an honorable mention in the General News category from the News Photographers Association of Canada (NPAC). Lindsay currently contributes to Milan-based LUZ photo.
About the Photograph:
“This photo was made during elections in Algeria in May 2012. Shorty after the Tunisian Revolution in January 2011, I moved to be based in Tunis and followed the course of the Arab Spring there and in Egypt and Yemen. Being based in Tunisia, Algeria was always close, and yet far away. It was fascinating to me how during a time of so much regional change it managed to stay the same. I finally had the opportunity go there in May 2012, when Algeria held legislative elections and the government was eager to show that it was being more open to journalists. After five trips to the Algerian Embassy in Tunis, I received a 15-day visa and permission to cover the elections in Algiers.”
“The visit to Algeria was fascinating, but the elections turned out to be a non-event – especially for a photographer. Most people took the extra day off to go to the beach. The polling stations were nearly empty; a person or family trickled in every 10 or 15 minutes. It was the exact opposite of the first free Tunisia elections that I’d covered a few months earlier, with so much energy and anticipation. At one of the last polling places I visited, this family walked in – it looked like a grandmother, mother and daughter. They were waiting for a while for the grandmother inside the polling booth on the right to vote, and seemed to forget that I was there. The young girl was bored and began to play with the curtain of the adjacent empty polling booth, and I managed to get this image before the sound of my camera made them notice me again. I like the frills of the girl’s dress and her white tights peaking out from behind the curtain, making what would have otherwise been a dull photo lighter and more interesting.”
Matt Mills McKnight April 18, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
Tags: United States
Morning Campfire with Light Foot Militia, Priest River, Idaho, 2011
Matt Mills McKnight (b.1980, USA) graduated from the Journalism Department at San Francisco State University with a degree in Photojournalism, and currently lives in Seattle, where he is a photo editor and freelance documentary photographer. His work has appeared with The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, The New York Times, Stern, High Country News, Southern Poverty Law Center, Wired.com, Associated Press, Reuters, NPR and many others. Before moving to Seattle, Matt was living in a small northern Idaho town working on personal projects related to fringe right-wing culture in the region. He continues to travel throughout the American West and beyond for assignments and personal work. He is represented by Redux Pictures.
About the Photograph:
“After spending about six months of attending meetings and training events with members of the 21st battalion of the Light Foot Militia, I was invited to photograph a weekend-long training session on public land near Priest River, Idaho. When I arrived to photograph them I found they had also included children in the event, an effort to share their staunch constitutionalist values and beliefs with a younger generation. ‘We’re trying to build a sense of community, not just the guys but the families also,’ said Jeff Stankiewicz, Commanding Officer of the Light Foot Militia, of opening training sessions to families. ‘Other groups won’t do that, but we’re trying to prepare our families. Schools don’t teach our kids this stuff so we have to teach them.’ Brandy Vanderzander from Couer d’Alene, Idaho, sits around the campfire with Josiah Hoyt after a night of camping in the forest. Vanderzander’s boyfriend and Josiah’s father, Cody Hoyt, is an active member of the militia. Josiah struggled with sickness from allergies and a general fear of guns & loud noises throughout the weekend, but his family and the militia insisted he learn their ways by being present.”
Gabriele Galimberti April 15, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Botswana.
From the CouchSurfing project, Kenias Hichaaba. Maun, Botswana 2012
Gabriele Galimberti (b. 1977, Italy) studied photography at ‘Fondazione Studio Marangoni’ in Florence from 2000 to 2003. He then ran a professional photography laboratory and a photo gallery in Florence. In 2002 Gabriele was one of the winning participants in a photography competition called ’Giovane Fotografia in Italia’ which selected ten upcoming photographers in all of Italy. He is member of Riverboom Publishing. Gabriele’s work have appeared in Newsweek, Le Monde, Geo, D– La Repubblica, Io Donna, Le Temps and Vanity Fair among others.
About the Photograph:
“Kenias lives in a small house with only two rooms. In the first one there are two armchairs, a console with TV and hi-fi, a kitchenette and the sofa where I slept for three nights. In the second room, instead, there are two chairs, a small wardrobe and a double mattress that Kenias shares with his younger brother and his mum. The bathroom is outside of the house that he shares with the five other families living in the small building. For the shower there is a bucket. His father died a few years ago and now Kenias is the man of the house. He is very religious, devoted to Pentecostalism and studies at the Bible School in Maun, Botswana. His dream is to become a charismatic priest. ‘I strongly believe in the manifestation gifts of the spirit, such as healing, speaking many languages and prophecies. I pray and study a lot, and I am sure that one day these gifts will show themselves in me.’ During the three days I spent in his house I suspected that his TV had only one channel. Indeed, it was always on Emmanuel TV, a channel of sermons and religious songs. Every day at about 3 pm, Kenias plays his keyboard on the armchair in front of the TV and sings along with it.”
Thomas Cristofoletti April 11, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Cambodia.
Suger Cane Workers. Koh Kong Province, Cambodia 2012
Thomas Cristofoletti (b. 1980, Italy) is freelance photojournalist based in Phnom Penh. He has been working in many social video & photography projects in South East Asia (mainly in Cambodia, Thailand and The Philippines) and in Europe, collaborating with different international NGO’s. His photographs have been featured in several international magazines and newspapers including The International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, IL de Il Sole 24 Ore, Afisha Mir Travel Magazine, El Pais, In Style Russia and LaRepubblica.
About the Photograph:
“This was one of the first pictures I took when I arrived in the small village of Chhoyk in the South of Cambodia. After waiting two hours for the sugar cane plantations’ workers to return home, a small truck arrived and immediately, this child stole my attention. His clothes and face were a mess and his body was completely full of ashes. As I tried to get close to him he instinctively huged his little sister and I saw the shot, maybe one of the most interesting and powerful photos I made of the Cambodian sugar cane plantations. In Cambodia hundreds of thousands of people are currently being displaced from their homes, farmlands, forests and fisheries as investors plunder the country for private profit in the name of development. Many families have been forced to send their children to work in the plantations, for less than 2.5 USD per day, after losing their land and their only source of income. ‘Blood Sugar ‘is an ongoing project in collaboration with the Australian photographer Nicolas Axelrod.”
Anastasia Rudenko April 8, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
Domestic Violence Incident. Vologda, Russia 2010
Anastasia Rudenko (b.1982, South Kazakhstan) began taking photos and documenting families affected by domestic abuse, including members of her own family and people she met by following the police. Over the past two years Anastasia has been exploring social issues in Russia (domestic violence, disabled children living in orphanages) and documenting life in her native Kazakhstan. She was selected for PDN’s list of 30 new and emerging photographers to watch and for 19th Joop Swart Masterclass in 2012. She recently graduated from the Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia. Anastasia is based in Moscow and represented by Reportage by Getty Images.
About the Photograph:
“I was in raid with police during New Year holidays, a time when many domestic violence incidents occur. This couple was divorced but still forced to live together because of their common flat. They accused one another of stabbing each other with a knife. In contrast to a situation where the husband is usually the tyrant, in this family conflict I see the problem of people just not being able to communicate with each other. What interested me most in this photograph was the policeman who was so frustrated.”
Jack Picone April 4, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Thailand.
AIDS patient at Wat Prabut Namphu, Lopburi, Thailand 2002
Jack Picone (b. 1958, Australia) has covered eight wars in the 1990s, some several times over, including Armenia, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Rwanda, Palestine, Iraq, Liberia, Sudan, Angola and Soviet Central Asia. He is credited as leading a new wave of Australian photographers that matured in the 1990s, a group who not only reported on day-to-day events but the deeper social issues at hand. His clients have included, German Geo, Stern, De Spiegel, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, L’Express, Granta, Colors Magazine and many others. Jack is a co-founder of Australia’s Reportage Festival and the founder of Communique documentary photography workshops along with Stephen Dupont. His work has been exhibited extensively in Europe, Australia and the USA. Jack is based in Bangkok and is a member of the collective South.
About the Photograph:
“This image was part of a larger body of work that looked at the AIDS epidemic in Thailand. The intention of this photograph was to give a voice to the HIV-infected people who face social ostracism, stigmatization and hardship in Thailand. In this specific photograph made at Wat Prabut Namphu (a Buddhist monastery/hospice for those dying of AIDS) a man reaches from under his human size mosquito and fly net for a glass of water. The hospice was a fairly bleak place which was challenged on many fronts and the care provided to people dying there, was rudimentary at best. The simple act of a man reaching for a glass of water is a very quiet moment but somehow when I look at this image it resonates loudly and pervades me and I am engulfed with a sense of melancholy and helplessness. For over a decade, I have been involved in photographing people and communities with AIDS as part of a London- based project called “Positive Lives.”
Damien Rayuela April 1, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in France.
Parisian summer festival. France 2011
Damien Rayuela (b.1985, France) graduated with a Master’s in International Relations and later earned a second degree in Multimedia Creation and Production at ENS Télécom Paristech. He completed a six-month internship at Magnum Photos in Paris, working for and sometimes assisting photographers such as Raymond Depardon, Alex Majoli and Josef Koudelka. It turned out to be a springboard to get his work exhibited and sparked collaborations with Café Babel (in Hungary and Serbia), Nisimasa, Honkytonk Films and PhotoEspaña. Damien is currently based in Phnom Penh where he is the multimedia project manager for the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center.
About the Photograph:
“Summer really transforms the city of Paris. Every year the city council organizes what is known as Paris Plages. For me, it’s one of the rare moments when French people of all ages and from different backgrounds mix with tourists. One day as I was passing by, there was a ball underway along the Canal Saint Martin. I stumbled upon a crowd of teenagers laughing while watching older people dancing to the songs of their youth. I spent a while hypnotized by the interaction of the different people. Peculiar meetings like this one, where people from different cultures and backgrounds come together and bond in such a short time. This can only happen thanks to the magic of music and dancing. I was focusing on this couple but my attention got caught by the sight of this elegant woman (on the right), her red lips and her floral dress. At the end of a song, dancers were changing partners yet nobody came to her. The music started playing again and she stayed in the middle of the passionate dancers as if she was immobilized. I tried to capture this moment of solitude.”
Paolo Patrizi March 28, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Japan.
Junior Sumo wrestlers circle the ring. Tokyo, 2009.
Paolo Patrizi (b.1965, Italy) began his career in London working as a photo assistant. While doing freelance assignments for British magazines and design groups he started to develop individual projects of his own. His photographs have been published in The Observer Magazine, Stern, Panorama, Corriere della Sera, GQ, Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and Geo among others. Paolo has won several awards with the Association of Photographers of London, The John Kobal Portrait Award, World Press Photo, The Sony World Photography Awards, The Anthropographia Award for Human Rights and POYi. His photographs are part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
About the Photograph:
“Watching these big men tossing each other around the dohyo it is difficult to see that the mental and spiritual side of the sport are more important than the body. It takes enormous mental strength to maintain a winning edge. If they can’t get in the right frame of mind, they can’t win. Training is a vital part of the lives of wrestlers. This starts early in the morning, around six with the lowest rank supervised by slightly senior wrestlers. The regular form – ‘Moshiai-Geiko’- is that of a succession of bouts, with the winner staying in the ring and choosing his next opponent. It follows that a good wrestler gets more training.”
“When the time allotted is almost up, seniors get into the ring one at a time and give individual Bustukari-Geiko, which consists of the juniors charging from outside the ring and trying to push the senior right across the other side. The sport-ritual of Sumo is dear to the Japanese because it reflects in microcosm many of the values that Japan holds dear. Japanese society places enormous importance on rank and hierarchy and the world of Sumo does the same. Japan is a nation that cherishes rules and respects authority, and in sumo too this tradition is unyielding. Sumo is one of the most ancient expressions of Japanese culture inspired by the Samurai code of honor with champions regarded as national heroes. The Rishiki, with their 17th century Samurai-style hairdos, are expected to show stoicism. Winners in Sumo never feel or express self-satisfaction and losers never complain. At the end of a bout the Rishiki bow respectfully to each other and step silently down from the ring.”
Geoffrey Hiller on the Recent Violence in Myanmar March 25, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Burma, Myanmar.
Tags: Burma, Myanmar
Editor’s note: In light of last week’s tragic events in Meiktila, Myanmar I’m posting a report from my visit there last month. All photographs by Geoffrey Hiller.
College graduates leaving a beauty salon
About the Photographs:
Last month while in Myanmar I spent a few days in the town of Meiktila, in the center of the country between Naypyidaw and Mandalay. The bus from Taungoo was packed with people and chickens and bales of bamboo, and stopped every couple minutes to pick up more passengers. The distance was 150 miles but the trip took eight hours. I had called the day before to reserve a room at the main hotel but was told it was fully booked. I didn’t want to return to Yangon or go on to Mandalay, so I went to Meiktila any way. Sure enough, plenty of rooms were available.
The bus dropped me off in the Muslim part of town near a large mosque, across from a tea shop where a man was baking nan in a fiery clay oven. I took a motorcycle-taxi to the hotel, had dinner and walked around the neighborhood to get oriented my first night. After the bustle of Yangon, the small-town atmosphere was welcoming. Shop owners relaxed outside on tree-lined streets, chatting with each other.
Aung San Suu Kyi and her former husband Michael Aris visited Meiktila on their honeymoon in 1972. It’s a pleasant town on a lake as big as Inle Lake. An English-style clock tower looms over the center of town. In my three days there the only other foreigner I met was a middle-aged man from Russia who spoke to me in Spanish.
The next day I visited one of the mosques on the other side of the railway tracks near my hotel. It was Friday afternoon, the Muslim sabbath, and was filled with men attending early afternoon Namaz service. After prayers they met in the front hall to socialize. One of them offered me bananas. Down the street there was an Indian grocery store run by Sikhs who had immigrated to Burma after the British left. I couldn’t help but notice the brisk business they were doing with a diversity of customers, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim.
I began my day at the Golden Rain Tea Shop, which was on a leafy street alongside three other large cafes. I noticed a brightly lit shop that turned out to be a beauty salon. It was graduation season and everywhere in Meiktila exquisitely dressed young women were getting ready for their commencement ceremonies. Photo studios were doing a brisk business. The graduates had majored in subjects such as electrical engineering and botany. It was doubtful that they would find work in those fields, but they were still hopeful.
In one salon owned by a group of gay men from Mandalay, a bride had just had her hair styled and was waiting for the groom to arrive.
Later in the day I photographed young girls breaking rocks by hand and paving the road. This was the norm for most, who had to leave school after a few years to do manual labor or housework or sell vegetables at the market. It reminded me of how little things have changed in Burma for centuries.
Buddhist monk collecting donations
One month after I left, the media reported that fighting erupted after an argument between a Buddhist couple and Muslim owners of a gold shop. After my experience in this peaceful town, the news reports about the fighting and killing and burning of homes is unbelievable to me. I had talked with dozens of residents of Meiktila, both Buddhists and Muslims, and I never would have guessed such violence would erupt. On my last day in Meiktila I waited for the night bus to Yangon at the Asia World stop, at a Shophouse where an extended Muslim family lived. The bus from Mandalay was two hours late but the father invited me in and offered me grapes. He showed me the rows of family photographs that covered the walls. As I follow the news, I fear for him and all his family who treated a stranger with such kindness.
An eery thing that I noticed after the bus picked me up was that an elderly monk who was sitting in the front got angry and started banging his plastic water bottle on the seat. The man next to me said that the bus had broken down before and the monk was frustrated because of the delay. This scene was uncharacteristic for the Burmese, and particularly a Buddhist monk. Now I wonder if it foreshadowed the shocking events to come.
Dave Anderson March 21, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
Tags: United States
“BBQ Queen”, from the project Rough Beauty, Vidor, Texas, 2004
Dave Anderson (b. 1970, United States) has been recognized as “one of the shooting stars of the American photo scene” by Germany’s fotoMAGAZIN and named a “Rising Star” by PDN. His project Rough Beauty was the winner of the 2005 National Project Competition from the Santa Fe Center for Photography and became the focus of his first book, which was published in three languages. His latest monograph, One Block: A New Orleans Neighborhood Rebuilds, was published in 2010 by Aperture Books and featured in the New York Times and Time as well as on Good Morning America and CNN. Dave is a former MTV producer and currently producing a video series called So Lost created for the Oxford American Magazine as well as a project for NPR called Southword.
About the Photograph:
“This photo was taken as part of a project I did called Rough Beauty. All the photographs were taken in and around the town of Vidor, Texas. One of the biggest events of the year is homecoming parade. The parade is bigger then their 4th of July celebration. There’s also an associated beauty pageant to name a “Miss Barbecue.” The key thing to remember is that there’s not just one Miss Barbecue for girls of most ages. By my memory, there’s Miss BBQ, Junior Miss BBQ, Little Miss BBQ, Mini Miss BBQ and Tiny Miss BBQ. Even Tiny Miss got her own car in the parade —even if she was just six months of age.”
“I found this girl standing around waiting for her car to be parade-ready. She was very pretty in her white dress but she was trying to hide her embarrassing black sneakers. She said, rather plaintively, “Please don’t show my shoes…” While I wasn’t able to honor that request, I did try to burn down (darken in the dark room) her shoes a bit. So the moment with her as well as the general awkwardness of the situation was quite resonant. But the other thing that I think really makes the photo is the absolute boredom of her brother, who stands sullenly off to the the side — just waiting for it all to be over.”
Srinivas Kuruganti March 18, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in India.
Toxic site, Hyderabad, India 2008
Srinivas Kuruganti (b.1967, United States) is a photographer of Indian origin. He has have photographed the daily lives of manual laborers, from the ship-breaking yards of Bombay to the coal mining villages of Dhanbad. His most recent project looks at mining in the forests and fertile lands of Orissa. Srinivas was awarded a South Asian Journalist Association fellowship in 2008 for his work on industrial pollution in Gujarat and Andhra. He is also a founding member of ASA Collective that curates monthly slideshow projections of emerging photographers in London.
About the Photograph:
“Patacheru is in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. It’s a major industrial hub where hundreds of factories manufacturing bulk drugs, pesticides, dyes and fertilizers dump their effluents into the streams. The streams here are considered one of the most toxic in the world. I was near a site where a steel rolling mill dumps their waste in and around communities that live in the industrial estates. The people in these communities scavenge for the iron shavings in the waste using massive magnets which they roll over the waste. They separate the shavings and small pieces of metal by size and resell back to the steel mills. The boy and his sister were standing in front of a truck that had just arrived and were in the process of dumping their waste when this photo was taken.”
Uwe H. Martin March 14, 2013Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Kazakhstan.
Two men decorate the place of honor prior to a wedding in Bogun, Kazakhstan 2011
Uwe H. Martin (b. 1973, Germany) is a visual storyteller and multimedia producer at the Bombay Flying Club. He documented the daily life in Bangladesh since 2000 and the struggle of people suffering from Narcolepsy in 2005. Uwe is currently working on a set of multimedia documentaries about the global commons water, seed and land. White Gold investigates the social and environmental effects of global cotton production, while his new visual research project Landrush analyzes the impact of large-scale agro-investments on rural economies and land-rights around the world. He teaches photography and multimedia storytelling at various institutions in Germany. Uwe studied photojournalism in Hanover, Germany and with the support of a Fulbright grant at the Missouri School of Journalism. In 2010 he founded Aggreys Dream, a project supporting a school in a slum in Mombasa, Kenya.
About the Photograph:
“Two fishermen decorate the place of honor prior a wedding in Bogun, Kazakhstan. Following an old tradition they are using cotton – the very fibre that destroyed their life and future. Bogun was an important seaport at the Aral Sea, with casinos, hotels and a population of around 9000 families. When the Aral Sea started to shrink in the 1960s due to excessive irrigation of cotton fields, Bogun was left dry in a chemical polluted salt desert. The fishing industry was destroyed, most people moved away and Bogun became a small village swallowed by a regional dust bowl.”
“The picture is part of my White Gold project that investigates the social and environmental effects of global cotton production. For me it reflects the ambiguity I feel about cotton. Cotton is the fabric of our life. We wear its fibers on our skin and pay for our cotton-filtered coffee with cotton-made paper money. We ingest its pressed seeds in potato chips and salad dressing, while cotton linters helps to paint our nails, recorded history on film and thickens the ice cream we eat during our first cinema date. Yet the darker side of this fabric spins another tale: Millions of Africans were abducted to work on the fields in the American south; Billion Dollar subsidies distort the global market and ruin millions of peasants in Western Africa and a fertile paradise turned into a chemical polluted desert in Central Asia while 200,000 Indian farmers committed suicide during the last decade after they became dependent on corporate seed supply.”