Overview participating photographers
Communist ideals provided inspiration for millions of people during the 19th and 20th centuries. In the practice of the totalitarian regimes that called themselves communist, these ideals were however discarded in favour of repression. The fall of the Iron Curtain and the triumph of free market ideology in the late 20th century seemed to be the coup de grâce for political parties that struggled for greater social and economic equality – and even the economic crisis has not changed that. Yet communist ideals live on in various countries among small groups of faithful Marxist-Leninists, Trotskyites and Maoists. In his series Red Twilight Jan Banning recorded the party offices of these groups.
During the civil wars in Sierra Leone (1989-1996 and 1999-2003) and Liberia (1991-2002) Charles Taylor brought suffering beyond human reckoning – not only in Sierra Leone and Liberia, but also in Guinea-Bissau and Ivory Coast. Hundreds of thousands got killed, often in massacres, and millions of refugees and displaced.
During ten years portuguese journalist Pedro Rosa Mendes and german photographer Wolf Böwig traveled the region to document these West African wars. Their work has been recognized and published in newspapers and publications around the world, leading to a Pulitzer Nomination in 2007.
Their reportages are often snapshots of incomprehensible horror from all fronts of these wars, while at the same time a sensitive approach to the plight of traumatized victims and perpetrators alike. During their many years of collaboration, Mendes and Böwig kept asking themselves the same question over and over again how to present the incomprehensible, the unspeakable, the unimaginable through word and image. Is it even possible to document the breakdown of what we consider human and at the same time restore some of the victims dignity?
Under the label “The Charles Taylor Wars”, an international lineup of illustrators and artists create a crossover version of the reports, merging illustration, photography and written word. Through the collaboration of artists, photographer, authorc as well as local eyewitnesses, Black.Light Project creates the fragments for fifteen different stories in a series of workshops. The work will be presented in galleries and public venues in Europe, Africa and the United States and later on be published in a book.
Black.Light Project aims at creating synergies and a transcontinental dialogue that goes far beyond of what traditional war correspondence can achieve. Photography, journalistic reports, graphics and popular comicbook style merge into one homogeneous non-linear storytelling, creating a new publishing medium of its own.
With its casual semi-nudity, the street scene in Brazil may suggest an impression of tolerance and liberal thinking, but the figures tell a different story. Over the past four years violence against homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals has tripled in Brazil. In response to this, Diana Blok was asked by the Dutch Embassy to record the LGBT community there, as she previously did in Turkey with her series See Through Us. Blok's encounters with gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals resulted in personal disclosures about the search for a sexual identity in a thoroughly conservative society.
In the town of Pudasjärvi in central Finland there are more reindeer than people. An aging population and the departure of young people for the cities means that the number of residents has fallen sharply. That has caused the town to set an unusual goal for itself: by 2018 one out of ever ten residents must be an immigrant. In her series Walking on Rivers Laura Böök follows the Congolese families who, after having lived more than fifteen years in refugee camps, have now settled in Pudasjärvi. At the same time she follows the town's transition, as it wrestles with redefining its identity.
Tse Chi Tak
For this project, the residents on the outskirts of the city state of Honk Kong – farmers, gardeners, teachers, and people who have lived there their entire lives – donated their home-grown plants to Hongkongers in densely populated city districts. In doing so, they share their idyllic surroundings and love for nature, and point out that greenery is highly important for clean air in smog-polluted cities. In exchange, the urbanites made 'sunny dolls', an old countryside tradition where a handmade doll symbolises sunlight and a healthy life. The outskirts, however, are threatened by the Chinese megacity of Shenzhen, which lies directly on the border of Hong Kong and is one of the fastest growing cities on the planet. Due to the economic cooperation with Hong Kong, people on the outskirts are forced to give up their houses, fields, and fresh air. Urban development, focused on consumption and laziness, consequently inflicts irreversible damage to the natural environment.
José Luis Cuevas
With his series New Era José Luis Cuevas suggests a spiritual quest that leads people along obscure paths. Its ambiguous character evokes the general malaise of a society which rejects spirituality while at the same time fanatically trusting supernatural forces in seeking to manipulate their own reality. Through the eternal struggle between good and evil, the finite and the infinite, life and death, there appear to be glimmers of hope from prophecies that promise a way of escape, but they are nothing more than a metaphor for a world in which loathing, fear and despair are triumphant.
Working from the idea that youth equals unlimited possibilities, Loulou d'Aki did portraits of young people in the Middle East following Arab Spring. Just before she made the photos, she asked the young people about their dreams and ambitions for the future. By doing this, d'Aki hoped to record as honest an image of them as possible. Her photos reveal how life goes on and dreams and aspirations continue to exist, no matter what the circumstances. Whether they will come true, does not matter. According to d'Aki, the most important thing is that they exist.
James Whitlow Delano
The Cameroonian activist Christopher Achobang has devoted his life to the defense of the human rightsof the Mbororo minority, who are being driven off their land by the rise of large scale palm oil plantations. Achobang is a thorn in the flesh of the local authorities and has learned how to get around their opposition, but remains at loggerheads with them, and has more than once received death threats. James Whitlow Delano followed Achobang and the villagers and farmers for whom he stands up.
Tom Fecht (West-Duitsland, 1952) studeerde in New York en Berlijn en werkte daarna als ingenieur, uitgever en redacteur. In 1992 lanceerde hij op de vijfjarige kunsttentoonstelling Documenta IX zijn artistieke carrière als beeldhouwer. Sinds de late jaren negentig geeft hij de voorkeur aan fotografie als kunstvorm. Tom Fecht woont en werkt afwisselend in Berlijn, Bordeaux en Bretagne.
The Hambacher Forst, one of Germany's oldest woodlands, lies midway between Cologne and South Limburg. The enormous hunger for brown coal on the part of the RWE Power Company however threatens to be fatal for the woodlands: recovering the brown coal from under the woods is only possible once it has been cut down. To protest gainst an anachronistic energy policy that still supports massive energy companies in the burning of fossil fuels, an action group occupied the woods, settling in treehouses there. Markus Feger photographed the demonstrators, who not only protest, but have also lived in harmony with nature and their ideals for more than two years now – despite their conflict with the police and RWE security.
On the decommissoned Tempelhof Airport in Berlin small collectives are seeking alternatives for the globalized food industry. With their vegetable gardens they reinforce the consciousness of the sources of food and strengthen social and cultural integration. Katharina Fitz recorded their garden plots through the four seasons. Each season produced hundreds of separate photos taken from three metres up, which were assembled into one image. In that way Urban Gardening Patchwork visualizes the power each individual has to break through established structures.
Since the military junta withdrew to their barracks in 2011, Myanmar would appear to be headed for an unexpectedly sunny future. A lot, however, depends on the elections in 2015. For these to be held in a fair manner, large parts of the 2008 constitution, written by the military, will have to be rewritten. The parlement, a large part of which is made up of former military officers, indeed appears to be ready to make the necessary changes. That will mean that for the first time since the coup by General Ne Win in 1962, the Burmese will have the prospect of a smoothly functioning democracy. With her series In a Quest for Utopia Ana Galan pays homage to the people who risk prison sentences – and even their lives – in the struggle for democracy and freedom.
People lead more sustainable lives once they have more of an understanding of the basic principles of the 'next economy', states Douglas Gayeton. With this in mind, he founded, together with his wife, The Lexicon of Sustainability to convey these principles through film and photography and to enthuse the public. In his series The New Face of Food and Farming in America, Gayeton uses photography to explain agricultural terms, and in doing so is able to show and research a popular development: the local production of food.
About eight million of the 175 million migrant workers in the world come from Bangladesh. Every year thousands of Bangladeshis pay large sums to employment brokers to arrange jobs in other countries. But most of the times the search for a better life ends in harsh reality. Once the workers arrive in the new country, the jobs often turn out to be quite different from what was promised: the jobs may not even exist, or the workers are picked up because they were given false papers. Because as the employee of a travel agency he had seen these bad-faith practices himself, Khaled Hasan decided to follow the migrant workers with his camera. It struck him how quickly the uneducated workers became accepting of the adverse circumstances of their new lives.
Every year something called the Campus Party, one of the largest LAN parties in Europe, is organized in Valencia, Spain. About 8000 young people, from software designers and gamers to hackers, proponents of free software and digital adepts, plug their computers into a Local Area Network (LAN) so that they can communicate with each other. Photographer Roc Herms recorded how they live in front of their computer for a week, busily exchanging programs, knowledge and experiences. For these apostles of the digital age computers and the internet are more than just handy and fun. They are second nature for them, an essential component of their identity and the virtual environment where they live a large part of their life.
All across Africa technology centres and hi-tech laboratories are springing up like mushrooms. From Senegal to Uganda and from Cameroon to Kenya glass fibre cables are laying the foundations for a new era of African innovation. From all over the continent – and the world – these hubs draw young, creative and ambitious students, programmers, entrepreneurs and investors. In his series Inside Africa's Hubs Jonathan Kalan engages in a visual voyage of discovery through this pan-African mosaic of innovation, start-ups and technology which is changing the continent for ever.
In Lisbon, 80 hectare of vacant land has been occupied by the city's citizens and is used for kitchen gardening. The urbanites are not doing that out of idealism or to make a political statement, but out of sheer necessity: as a result of poverty, it is one of the few ways to obtain food, or to generate their own income through the sale of produce from the land. For her series Couve e Coragem ('cool and courageous'), for two years Lioba Keuck followed the people who cultivate plots of land between busy arterial roads and apartment buildings. Many, originating mostly from the former Portuguese colonies, had once left their home in hope of a better life in the city. Now that this hope has vanished, and the social safety nets have fallen away due to the crisis, their vegetable garden is their only ally in the struggle for a dignified life.
A new generation of ambitious, well-educated entrepreneurs has arisen in Greece, hard hit by the Eurocrisis. Rather than throwing in the towel, they confidently begin businesses of their own, in what might be called the internet-mobile-software triangle. Francesco. Lastrucci recorded these fast-rising Athens start-ups at coLab, a brightly lit, intelligently designed building in the centre of the city where they they can rent a workplace with free broadband and coffee. From there these young Greeks can break into world markets, and in several cases have been able to even become market leaders.
For over a decade a civil war raged in Nepal. Maoist rebels wanted to depose King Gyanendra and establish a Communist state on the Chinese model. In 2006 the government and rebels signed a peace agreement, followed two years later by the election of an assembly to draw up a constitution. In his series This Country is Yours the photographer Surendra Lawoti followed activists from six different social and political movements in the capital city of Kathmandu – from religious minorities and indigenous peoples to women and the LGBT community – during the writing of Nepal's new constitution in a country that for centuries is being dominated by the ‘highter caste’ Hindus.
As a women who grew up in China, Yijun Liao always thought that she could only love someone who was older and moe adult than she was. Her Japanese friend Moro is however five years younger, which has reversed the rolls of power. This caused Liao to go in search of alternatives for what is considered the norm for heterosexual relations, and to photograph herself and her friend in diverse situations – which do not represent their real relationship, but are only an experiment, she adds.
The city-nation Singapore occupies an island with a coastline of 194 kilometers, making it somewhat smaller than the city of Hamburg. The photographer Weixiang Lim suggests that for Singaporeans, the coastline is a clear limitation. This natural barrier causes the population to look ambitiously beyond their borders, in search of something more that will calm their restlessness.
Two years ago the French former biker, vagrant and prisoner Brann de Senon decided to change his life. In the woods at Fontainebleau he purchased a plot of land and 20 old caravans. There he provides the homeless with food and shelter. There are a number of rules: no addiction, and everyone must do their share of the work, by feeding the animals, drawing water from nearby springs, or picking up donations from supermarkets in the area. Once a month they give out soup to homeless people in the cities and give them information. Beginning in August, 2013, Marcilhacy spent one week a month at this community. Even though the village will not itself change the lives of the tens of thousands of homeless in France, according to him it at least shows how what is necessary can be accomplished with limited means.
In 1984 the poison gas leak in Bhopal, India, claimed 8000 lives and injured countless more. Thirty years later there are still a hundred thousand people chronically ill from the effects of the gas cloud that escaped from the Union Carbide factory. The remaining poison keeps polluting the drinking water and has caused a sharp rise in the number of children with birth defects. The law suit against DOW Chemical (the company that bought Union Carbide) still drags on after thirty years. Abandoned by their own government, the population have no other choice than take things into their own hands. For instance, Rashida Bi and Champa Devi Shukla were widowed in the disaster. They established the Chingari Trust Rehabilitation Centre, which has seen to it that the local authorities regularly provide the most polluted neighbourhoods of the city with clean drinking water.
At the invitation of the photographer Wawi Navarroza the residents of Manilla sought out plants, stones, soil and other natural materials in characteristic spots in their city. She then used the collected (and comprehensively catalogued) material to assemble terrariums, thus creating a psycho-geographic map of Manilla on the basis of the hundreds of locations from which the material came. Under the glass domes the city, its memories, and the raw realities form tiny eco-systems that lead to large conclusions, reflections, and questions.
With No Dar Papaya the photographer Matthew O'Brien gives us his view of Colombia. In this series, which was shot with a Polaroid camera for its characteristic soft colours, he provides an antidote to the images of war, violence and misery that dominate the international media, and in Colombia are known as pornomiseria. Despite the violence and the deep chasm between the rich and poor, O'Brien saw how the Colombians lead their lives with considerable creativity, joy and feeling for humanity and beauty. No Dar Papaya is a expression meaning as much as ‘don’t show any weakness and don’t be an easy target’.
Robert Zhao Renhui
In A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World Robert Zhao Renhui documents the countless ways in which mankind is slowly but surely changing nature. Renhui presents a catalogue full of remarkable entities and life forms that have developed in often unexpected ways in order to cope with their environment after it was altered by people. Other organisms are the result of direct human interventions, with various motives that can range from scientific research to the desire for ornamentation.
What does it mean to be Ukrainian, or Russian? In the runup to the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict Sasha Rudensky visited both sides of the border in search of an answer to this question. The subjects of Rudensky's photos grew up after the disintegration of the Soviet Union – a period without a clear ideology. Do they define themselves at a personal and cultural level? How do they navigate in the social, political and psychological space between Western Europe and Putin's new Russian empire?
Jo Metson Scott
Jo Metson Scott did portraits of British and American soldiers who served in Iraq, but once there began to question the orders they received, and did not wish to continue fighting. On many occasions they did not return from leave. Their objections provoked various reactions. Sometimes they were praised, but more often ended up in the brig, or excluded, sometimes by their own families. In The Grey Line Scott investigates details from the lives of these soldiers, to uncover the essence of their dissident views.
The Nepalese village of Susta has always lain on the west bank of the Narayani River. This river was traditionally regarded as the boundary between Nepal and India, but all that changed when the river alternated its course, running ever-further into Nepalese territory – so far, in fact, that Susta now lies on the east bank of the Narayani. India, however, insists that the river is the border, and as a result, Susta and its vicinity is now a contested territory. The river's change of course is paired with serious floods and the erosion of hundreds of acres of farmland. If nothing is done quickly, people fear that the village itself will soon be washed away. The villagers' fate is now under pressure due to various external influences.
Science searches for knowledge, but the results can be unpredictable, suggests the German photographer Jens Sundheim. Depending on your point of view, you can call the results of research dubious, worrying, promising or clarifying. They can enrich understanding, cure diseases and make life easier, but also can help destroy mankind. In his series Von Ameisen und Sternkörpern Sundheim recorded this complexity at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, using his camera as a scientific instrument to discover the visual traces of scientific research.
The Ghanaian town of Elmina was founded in the 15th century by the Portuguese as the first European settlement in West Africa. While gold mining and the slave trade originally played an important role here, today fishing in the most important source of income. Without adopting the contemporary technology used in modern, industrial fishing, or the aggressive conduct of the Chinese fishing boats in particular, the fishermen of Elmina courageously fight for their existence. They have established small cooperatives that share out the income from their small-scale fishing among their members. In that way they can provide a living for themselves, without any form of governmental support.