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David Maurice Smith October 3, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Australia.

From the series ‘Living in the Shadows’. Wilcannia, New South Wales, Australia, 2012.

David Maurice Smith (b. 1973, Canada) is a Canadian documentary photographer based in Sydney, Australia whose photography is informed by a previous 10 year career in social work supporting individuals in disadvantaged communities. In 2013 David was named Australian Emerging Documentary photographer of the year as well as being named winner of the $10,000 POOL Grant for his ongoing project in Wilcannia, a rural Aboriginal community. He joined Australia’s Oculi photographic collective in 2012 and in 2011 he was awarded the LIFE Magazine Grant at the Eddie Adams Workshop in New York. His work has been published by The New York Times, CNN, Monocle Magazine, Huffington Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Telegraph, The Australian, SBS, VICE, Hemispheres Magazine and The Surfer’s Journal.

About the Photograph:

“I have been photographing the Barkindji Aboriginal community of Wilcannia, New South Wales, Australia since 2010. Like so many indigenous people around the world, the Barkindji are caught in a cycle of disparity caused by a dark history of colonization, institutionalized racism and harsh socioeconomic realities. Despite being the traditional keepers of one of the most prosperous nations on earth, they endure conditions comparable to a third world nation. The average male life expectancy in their community is approximately 35 years of age, less than half the national average.”

“The scene depicted in this image is familiar in many communities: carefree children, lost in play. However the reality is that for these Barkindji girls life is far from carefree and their future, like the abandoned lot in which they play, looks very different to that of their non-Aboriginal counterparts. (from L to R) Ariah Jones aged 4, Rhianna Harris aged 5, Shania Mills aged 7 and Whitney Harris aged 7 have the odds stacked against them. Sisters Rhianna and Whitney are being raised by a relative as their mother (who stood just out of frame) is unable to care for them due to her alcoholism and frequent incarceration. Several days into a drinking binge she was clumsily trying to engage with her daughters to no avail. It was difficult to watch as they made fun of her as children do when struggling to understand or accept someone. Despite being their mother, she was a stranger to them. They ignored her attempts at connection as if to shield themselves from the hurt of abandonment”