Heather McClintock May 27, 2008Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Uganda.
Tags: Heather McClintock, Uganda
Akullu Evelyn and Akello Mildred, Abia IDP Camp, Uganda, 2006
Raised on a dairy farm in Vermont, Heather McClintock received her BA in photography from New England College in New Hampshire, and Arundel, England, then relocated to New York City to work in prestigious commercial studios. A growing discontent with studio work, along with a desire to pursue humanitarian relief work led to her involvement with documentary photography. Heather first visited northern Uganda in 2005, where she focused on the strength and grace of the Acholi people, ravaged by both mental and physical cruelties resulting from a brutal twenty-year civil war. She returned in 2007. Her Uganda work garnered several awards, including the 2006 Center for Photographic Art Artist Project Award and her partnership with Blue Earth Alliance
About the Photograph:
In February of 2002, the LRA attacked Abia, searching for food, supplies and children to abduct. Mildred was inside her home with her six children when the rebels set fire to all the thatched roofs in the camp. The civilians were then forced to choose between staying inside their burning homes, or being shot by the rebels while attempting to escape. After she and her children were burned, Mildred’s husband left her and found another wife.”
“Stepping over the edge and pursuing documentary photography is intrinsically not supposed to be about oneself… but of course life is never so black and white. The situations we find ourselves in as photographers inevitably point and entwine that outer lens back onto ourselves. How do we photograph differently so people won’t turn away from more pain seen in another’s eyes? Are we taking that nebulous something; pride, dignity, humanity, away from someone more than we are actually helping? In northern Uganda, I lost all hesitancy and self-doubt when asking for everyone’s permission to photograph them. ‘We want our plight to be seen. Show these images. Bring people back to help us. Please.’ We are graced with a huge amount of responsibility when we don’t look away from another’s plight, another’s soul. We have been entrusted with the burden of helping people with our images. And most disturbingly, we can leave these places. Are we then strong enough to continue to persevere on their behalf from the outside? If they can survive with such strength and grace, how dare we do anything less? Seeing their pain IS the point. Their stories of devastation and dignity reflect the ambiguity and mystery within each of us.”