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Uwe H. Martin March 14, 2013

Posted 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.”