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we tell stories


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we tell stories


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1945


© Haruka Sakaguchi

1945


© Haruka Sakaguchi

On August 6 and 9, 1945, the US dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively, killing between 129,000 – 226,000 people by the end of the year. Many suffer from debilitating diseases and stigmatization to this day. As of 2018, the average age of hibakusha – or atomic bomb survivors – is 81.41. Soon, we will no longer be able to hear first hand accounts of this human atrocity.

1945 is a documentary project addressing atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Participants are asked to provide a testimony about their experiences and to write a handwritten letter addressing future generations, all of which are translated into English over at 1945project.com. What began as a simple portrait series evolved into a web project with in-depth testimonies, audio files, a historical timeline and resources to honor a rapidly aging hibakusha community.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive
check out the dedicated website - 1945project.com


Taeko Teramae, 87, is a first generation atomic bomb survivor who lost sight in her right eye due to injuries from the atomic bomb blast. Here she tells her story about life after the bomb, which was irreversibly altered by her injury and multiple rounds of radiation-borne diseases, including breast cancer, uterine cancer and thyroid cancer.

Masakatsu Obata, 99, is a first generation atomic bomb survivor who was exposed to the atomic bomb at age 27. Here he tells a story about a coworker that passed away a month after the bombing and the confusion surrounding his death. Many Japanese citizens did not know what an atomic bomb was – or nuclear radiation, for that matter – until months after the bombing.


Minoru Moriuchi, 80, is a first generation atomic bomb survivor from Nagasaki. Here he tells us about the death of his older brother, who was virtually unscathed on the day of the bombing but passed away mysteriously 20 days later.


Megumi Shinoda, 85, is a first generation atomic bomb survivor who lost her older sister to the atomic bomb. Here, she recalls watching her mother steadfastly wait for her child’s “return” in the middle of the night, unable to come to terms with her fate. Ms. Shinoda’s family later experienced the deaths of three more children within months after the bombing, due to radiation sickness.

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The Other Iraq


© Mark Edward Harris

The Other Iraq


© Mark Edward Harris

Except for the concussive sounds of 500-pound bombs being dropped on Mosul, there were few signs of war by the time we reached the most southwestern part of our journey through Iraqi Kurdistan. This was May 2017 and I was traveling with Harry Schute, a retired Army colonel turned part time tour operator, Balin Zrar our local guide, and a small band of wanderlusting friends to explore an area that only a few years earlier had barely fended off an ISIS onslaught. Coalition airstrikes, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Iraqi Army forces reversed the sea of black flags that had gotten to within three miles of where I now stood. We also had three heavily armed gentlemen along for the ride for this leg of the trip.

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Schute explained how he had teamed with Douglas Layton, a former U.S. State Department contractor and historian to form Kurdistan Iraq Tours, the only in-bound tour operator to have survived the ISIS onslaught. Though business had been non-existent for long periods, they refused to shutter it, believing in their product and the Kurdish people themselves.  

A week spent exploring the bustling bazaars of Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah, and Erbil, hiking in the Zagros Mountains, kayaking on Dukan Lake, having insightful conversations over tea at every turn with the locals, bore out Schute’s and Layton’s belief in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

My camera has always been more interested in documenting daily life rather than the carnage of war. The human struggle for normality even in the face of extreme difficulties has never ceased to amaze me. This was never more evident than on the face and in the words of Yousif Ibrahim, bishop of the 8th century Mar Mattai Monastery who had lost his brother to the Islamic State of Iraq. While blood was still being shed in the name of religion less than 20 miles away, he explained how the people of Iraqi Kurdistan had come together to save the monastery and the region as a whole. Variations of the same theme were expressed throughout our journey. 

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Unlike much of Iraq, Kurdistan is a mountainous region. Crowning one peak named Gara, is the bombed out remains of one of Saddam’s palaces, a scar on an otherwise beautiful mountain. Rusted landmine signs still surround the former palace/fortress, silent aides-mémoires of a very turbulent recent past. Other stark reminders include the Red House in Sulaymaniyah where Saddam’s enemy’s were tortured, the Halabja Museum in the town of the same name where the Iraqi dictator killed thousands of Kurdish civilians in a chemical gas attack on March 16, 1988 during the last days of the Iran-Iraq War. 

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But not all history is in the past. A clear reminder that huge hurdles remain to be cleared was the city-sized refugee camp in Duhok housing mostly displaced Yazidi, one of Iraq’s most mysterious religious minorities whom ISIS had massacred by the thousands. To learn more about the Yazidi’s we drove to Lalish, a mountain village 30 miles southeast of Duhok.  We were greeted by endless smiles, a sign requesting that we remove our shoes, and a huge mural depicting how Noah’s Ark came to rest here after a snake used its body to plug a hole in the boat. This selfless act saved all of creation. 

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Though the people of Iraqi Kurdistan have suffered as Shakespeare penned “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” once again I had witnessed how humanity found a way to persevere, and in the case of Iraq’s northern autonomous region, prosper. 

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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The Last Stand


© Guillaume Bonn

The Last Stand


© Guillaume Bonn

Garamba Park - Congo DRC

This story, reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, deals with the war for Africa's elephants. The narrative core is a detailed recreation of a deadly day in Garamba National Park when the poaching of a single elephant led to the deaths of three rangers and the wounding of the park's manager. The story explores both the violent and dangerous nature of the illegal ivory trade, and the extremes to which people will go to kill, and to protect, elephants.  

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Fifteen bullets felled the elephant. It was a few weeks into Congo’s springtime rainy season and the animal, an adult male, collapsed among dense green stalks of yard-high grass. As the automatic rifle fire rattled across the savannah, a ranger at the Bagunda Observation Post–a collection of tents and thatch-roofed stone huts on a hillside to the east–radioed the news back to park headquarters. A few miles away, Dieudonne Kanisa, a compact and muscular Congolese ranger, also heard the shots as he patrolled the northern bank of the meandering Garamba River. With his elite four-man unit, Kanisa moved toward the gunfire.

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The manager of Garamba National Park, Erik Mararv, began mobilizing back at headquarters. For the previous nine months Mararv, a lean 31-year-old Central African-born Swede with a shorn skull and set jaw, had overseen 120 rangers tasked with protecting Garamba, in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Alarmed by the radio alert he received at headquarters–it would be the second elephant killed that April week in 2016–Mararv grabbed his rifle and headed for the park’s helicopter with pilot Frank Molteno, a grizzled South African with a trim moustache, a military bearing and a lifetime’s experience flying all kinds of aircraft, often in places without runways or rules.

Garamba, half the size of Vermont (4,800 square miles), is one of the continent’s first national parks. The 80-year-old World Heritage Site is an immense stretch of savannah and woodland in the heart of Africa, a gently undulating landscape of nine-foot-tall elephant grass and scattered sausage trees, segmented by streams and rivers, interrupted by swamps and pocked with the scars of abandoned termite hills. It is also home to the largest, most threatened herd of elephants in central Africa, and among the deadliest places for the people committed to protecting them: in the last three years 13 rangers have been murdered in 56 shoot-outs with poachers. The corresponding elephant toll in that time: 250 killed.

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In the past decade demand for ivory grew in lockstep with China’s economy, stoked by that nation’s expanding middle class and its desire for the trinkets and ornaments that traditionally symbolize wealth and success: ivory chopsticks, family seals, bracelets, statues. Never mind that Congo is 7,000 miles from Beijing, or that the international trade in ivory was banned in 1989. The result has been a dramatic increase in poaching and a catastrophic collapse in African elephant numbers, which have fallen by nearly a third in the last 10 years to an estimated 415,000. Even China’s new plan to outlaw its thriving domestic ivory market is likely to have only a modest impact–and none at all on the illegal business of killing elephants and smuggling their tusks across borders. The ban, in fact, may worsen the elephants’ plight by hiking prices while creating a monopoly for criminals. So long as prices are high, elephants will be in danger.  

Words by Tristan McConnell & Photographs by Guillaume Bonn

The full story is available upon request.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Sulfur Road


© Andrea Frazzetta

Sulfur Road


© Andrea Frazzetta

 This story was commissioned by National Geographic

This story was commissioned by National Geographic

A thick veil of smoke erases the sky over Mount Ijen, the scent of burnt matches saturates the air.
The noxious material that seeps from the bowels of East Java’s active volcano is incongruous with human life—it stings the eyes, burns the lungs, and corrodes the skin. But since 1968, the sulfur miners of Mount Ijen have ventured into this unpredictable labyrinth of gas clouds and superheated fumaroles to extract “devil’s gold” and carry it back down the mountain— a portrait of bone-crushing physical labor.

Mount Ijen hosts one of the last remaining active sulfur mines in the world, and while its otherworldly vistas have captivated scientists and travelers for more than two centuries, in recent decades, the miners themselves have become a controversial tourist attraction. Every day, miners make the arduous trek up Ijen’s 9,000-foot slopes under the cover darkness before descending another 3,000 feet into the crater, where a network of man- made ceramic pipes funnels the gases responsible for precipitating elemental sulfur. Enveloped in toxic fumes and heat, they chip away at the hardened blocks and carry 150 to 200-pound loads back up the crater twice a day, earning an average of five dollars per trip.

Around 2 a.m. when the first miners begin their ascent, hundreds of tourists are already streaming across the flanks of Ijen to witness its iconic blue flames, which can only be seen at night. Its half-mile turquoise crater lake takes on an eerie glow in the darkness. Deceptively beautiful, it has a pH lower than that of battery acid—the largest acid lake on Earth, caustic enough to dissolve metal.

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Considered a form of cultural heritage tourism, mine tours can be found around the world. Some researchers propose tourists are attracted to these sites because they elicit what philosophers have termed “the sublime”—a feeling of pleasure in seeing a dangerous but awe-inspiring object, like a violent act of nature.

Indonesia is situated on the Ring of Fire—a 25,000-mile seismically active belt of volcanoes and tectonic plate boundaries that frame the Pacific basin. It is estimated that 75 percent of all active volcanoes and 90 percent of earthquakes worldwide occur in this region.
About five million Indonesians live and work near active volcanoes, where farming soil is most fertile. Java alone is home to 141 million people—one of the most densely populated islands on Earth.

In March 2018, hundreds of people surrounding Mount Ijen were forced to evacuate their homes and 30 were hospitalized after the volcano spewed toxic gases.
Today, Indonesian and international scientists continuously monitor volcanic activity and are trying to find ways to mitigate future hazards.

(Text by Gulnaz Khan fo National Geographic)

Sulfur Road is the second chapter of “Beyond”: an investigation focused on the delicate relationship between man and the environment in its most extreme expressions. A project looking at humanity's hunger for the planet’s resources.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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In Her Orbit


© Andrea Frazzetta

In Her Orbit


© Andrea Frazzetta

 Portrait of Nathalie Cabrol

“Nathalie Cabrol was 5 when she saw the first moon landing on television. Pointing at Neil Armstrong, she told her mother that this was what she wanted to do. Even before then, she stared up at the stars in the night sky near her home in the Paris suburbs and knew that questions were there waiting for her.

Cabrol is an explorer, an astrobiologist and a planetary geologist specializing in Mars. She is the director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute, the nonprofit organization based in Mountain View, Calif., that seeks to explore, understand and explain the origin of life in the universe. Its work has the glamour of science fiction, but it involves rigorous research and, as Cabrol told me, “people who are passionate enough that they can put themselves into dire straits.” That is what she does, traveling to some of the world’s most extreme and dangerous environments in search of organisms that live in conditions analogous to those on Mars. Cabrol was the chief scientist on the team testing an experimental rover in the Atacama Desert in 2002 and was instrumental in choosing the landing site on Mars for Spirit, the rover that explored the planet from 2004 to 2010; she has dived in volcanic lakes at high altitudes to study the creatures within and has designed and installed an autonomous floating robot on an Andean lake that simulated lakes on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.” 

Text by Helen Macdonald for The New York Times Magazine.

This is the story the Seti’s last mission.  A 26 days, expedition to Chile’s high-altitude deserts to test methods of detecting life on Mars. 

This story is one of four extraordinary journeys published in the New York Times Magazine’s Voyages special issue - 25 March 2018.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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The Floating World


© Andrea Frazzetta

The Floating World


© Andrea Frazzetta

A People in Limbo, many living entirely on the water.
Floating villages spread across the surface of the Mekong River’s waterways, playing host to ethnic Vietnamese whose status in Cambodian society is perpetually adrift.

For the tourists who drive large parts of the country’s economy, Cambodia’s floating villages—where tens of thousands of ethnic Vietnamese live on rafts and houseboats—are a fantasy come to life. Tour guides describe the villages as curious products of an indigenous lifestyle.

 Vieng Yang Nang, lives in the floating village of Chong Koh, where he is a fisherman. 3,908 villagers live on about 750 floating homes in the village

Vieng Yang Nang, lives in the floating village of Chong Koh, where he is a fisherman. 3,908 villagers live on about 750 floating homes in the village

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In fact, the villages are improvised ghettoes to which the country’s largest minority has been unwillingly confined. They are a hangover of the mass killings and forced deportations of the Khmer Rouge era. The vast majority of Cambodia’s ethnic Vietnamese are undocumented, with no recourse to institutions that would allow them medical care, education, or - most crucially - the right to own or live on land. The inability to register births leads to a cycle of statelessness that passes from generation to generation, and leaves villagers vulnerable to random fines, extortion, mob violence, and forced relocation. As Cambodia modernizes, such encroachments are becoming more common.

In Cambodia, where the concepts of nationality and ethnicity are inextricable, members of the ethnic Vietnamese minority are known as “yuon”, a ubiquitous slur that is sometimes translated as “savage.”
This story aim to shed a light on the conditions of some of the most invisible members of the global stateless.

(Text by Ben Mauk for The New York Times)

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Korea: A Nation Divided


© Mark Edward Harris

Korea: A Nation Divided


© Mark Edward Harris

To better understand North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), one must travel back at least two centuries. For it is in the history of the Korean Peninsula, not just the land above the mid-20th century division, where an integral part of the bigger picture reveals itself.

The 19th century Opium Wars in China had an isolating effect on Korea, helping to create what became known as the Hermit Kingdom. While now often used as a synonym for the DPRK, this label was originally given to the entire peninsula.

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In the 1870s Japan began flexing its military muscle, crisscrossing the East Sea (Sea of Japan) in an attempt to subjugate Korea. These actions culminated in the annexation of the country in 1910. Japanese occupation would last until the end of World War II in 1945, when the United States took control of the southern half of the peninsula and the Soviet Union, having entered the war against Japan only a few weeks earlier, occupied the northern half. These are the seeds that grew into a divided Korea.

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In 1948 with the Cold War in full swing, North Korea and South Korea declared independence from each other, each claiming to be the rightful government for the entire peninsula. On June 25, 1950 the Cold War turned hot as Northern troops flooded into the South. By the time an armistice was signed on July 27,1953, more than two million soldiers and civilians had been killed. The armistice stopped - but did not officially end - the Korean War. At the time, U.S. General Mark Wayne Clark’s headquarters in Tokyo issued a statement addressed to all members of the United Nations Command: "I must tell you as emphatically as I can, that this does not mean immediate or even early withdrawal from Korea. The conflict will not be over until the Governments concerned have reached a firm political settlement." 

Six and a half decades later, with Pyongyang now possessing a nuclear arsenal and Washington in political turmoil, peace is still not at hand. 

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Breaking Point: Mexico City


© Carlos Cazalis

Breaking Point: Mexico City


© Carlos Cazalis

As the forecasts for climate change become more and more evident, it is clear that Mexico City’s current water challenges are to become its most threatening. Drought alongside heavier but shorter rainfalls are creating extenuating economic and social demands for a population over 20 million. The political spectrum in the upcoming presidential and local elections this year, seems a latent problem to a still centralized society. The arrogance of man throughout the ages has turned what was once a splendid water prone area into a sprawling concrete parched megacity.

 View during a rain storm of the main square of the Mexican capital, Mexico City, The once former Aztec capital Tenochtitlan once stood on this same square, surrounded by water and floating gardens before the Spanish colonization period decided to turn the area into squares and roads be draining the surrounding waters.

View during a rain storm of the main square of the Mexican capital, Mexico City, The once former Aztec capital Tenochtitlan once stood on this same square, surrounded by water and floating gardens before the Spanish colonization period decided to turn the area into squares and roads be draining the surrounding waters.

Hernan Cortes discovered Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital as an environmental splendor, surrounded by water and floating gardens. The conquest of the new world, the creation of Mexico City along with the ignorance of the Spanish in understanding the highly complex and balanced water system successively led to more and more problems as they tried to create an urban landscape similar to Spain with squares and roads. The Mexican capital today is not only sinking, it’s parched and highly polluted by sewage floods.

 

 Wokers along Mexico City's deep water drainage system, also known as the Emisor Central conducting repairs. Designed for a flow of 170 m3/s, the Emisor Central had zero gravity flow by 1990 and negative by 2000 due to further land settlement and the inclination of the original Grand Canal which until 1910 functioned on gravity alone. 

Wokers along Mexico City's deep water drainage system, also known as the Emisor Central conducting repairs. Designed for a flow of 170 m3/s, the Emisor Central had zero gravity flow by 1990 and negative by 2000 due to further land settlement and the inclination of the original Grand Canal which until 1910 functioned on gravity alone. 

Mexico City lies on a basin, one so large it was five lakes in the dry season and one large lake in the rain season providing plenty of fresh water. Today, the megalopolis has to dig deeper and deeper into the aquifers, often reaching fossilized water. Getting water to the city is as insane as it is modern. It’s a great engineering feat as well as an economic one, as it must bring as much as 40 percent of its water from remote sources but at the same time loses some 40 percent of its water in leaks. Over 750 billion liters of water must be expelled through a crumbling infrastructure that has yet to establish a rainwater collection or recycling wastewater system. 

The completion of the Grand Canal in the late 1800’s was an attempt to control and drain northwards the rainfalls and the valley’s running river waters. The poor drainage, the overcrowding, the lack of knowledge on the clay ground floor has year after year continuously sunk the city, rendering the canal’s natural gravity flow practically useless. The sewage waters today have to be pumped out at a cost equivalent to the energy demands of the nearby city of Puebla with 4 million people.

 A resident in the south of Mexico City walks through the entrance to her home after heavy rainfalls produced a flash flood that has overspilled the city's sewage systen The city of Mexico produces an average of 40,000 liters (10,570 U.S. gallons) of sewage every second.

A resident in the south of Mexico City walks through the entrance to her home after heavy rainfalls produced a flash flood that has overspilled the city's sewage systen The city of Mexico produces an average of 40,000 liters (10,570 U.S. gallons) of sewage every second.

 Father and child walk along the open sewage Canal de la Compañia in the municipality of Valle de Chalco on the periphery border of Mexico City and the state of Mexico. The Canal de la Compañia drains the Mexican capital of its waste. The canal lies several feet above thousands of homes and is a major source o pollution and fears of flooding which have occured in the past, destroying hundreds of homes. 

Father and child walk along the open sewage Canal de la Compañia in the municipality of Valle de Chalco on the periphery border of Mexico City and the state of Mexico. The Canal de la Compañia drains the Mexican capital of its waste. The canal lies several feet above thousands of homes and is a major source o pollution and fears of flooding which have occured in the past, destroying hundreds of homes. 

The southeast of the city is perhaps the most blatantly affected, the district of Iztapalapa with over 2 million people, many of which are accustomed to not having water from their taps, is covered with kilometer long cracks, crumbling sidewalks and crumbled buildings. Water for many residents only comes once a week, or through water trucks, known as “pipas”, every once every several weeks, depending on how large their home built cisterns are. The “pipas” are often government controlled by the political party in charge of the district, so adherence to the party often determines not only its arrival but its price. 

In the district of Xochimilco, once the center of the Aztec’s floating gardens, known as “chinampas”, a dual phenomenon occurs. On the one hand, the communities in the hills have to pay for their water to be brought up with donkeys that either come from a well or a “pipa” delivery spot. Many families spend up to 10 percent of their income for water. On the other hand, the agricultural communities have had their water reservoirs drained while the city floods the canals with treated water. Many residents recall being able to step out of their homes and swim in clean waters when they were children. These lands were once lake beds and now drought and overexploitation rolls enormous dust storms through them.

 Residents of Mexico City, in an effort to mitigate heat waves. swim in a pool that was formerly fed by a natural spring source, It was converted into a public pool and filled with treated waters and made available throughout the summer, Las Termans in the district of Iztacalco, Mexico City no longer functions as such in order to save water in the capital.

Residents of Mexico City, in an effort to mitigate heat waves. swim in a pool that was formerly fed by a natural spring source, It was converted into a public pool and filled with treated waters and made available throughout the summer, Las Termans in the district of Iztacalco, Mexico City no longer functions as such in order to save water in the capital.

The situation does not only affect the lower classes. It is starting to become more and more common to see, gated communities in both the south and north of the city, ordering “pipas”. This is a large strain to the infrastructure because the wealthy are far more accustomed to using far more water and they can afford it.

Climate change in Mexico City is exposing its vulnerabilities but the consequences of the current situation date back to term after term of poor government management and overpopulation. Water, health, air pollution, flooding and landslides are all current and future challenges due to these water effects.

The crisis is extenuated further by uncontrolled urban growth, that has permeated large areas of land that were set aside for agriculture or preservation. The land in many of these areas is porous, lying on volcanic rock, rather than clay like most of the city’s central area. The clay areas are the most vulnerable to sinking as evidenced in the many lopsided buildings downtown. 

 The illegal and controlled urbanization of the chinampas (floating gardends) of the district of Xochimilco located in the south of Mexico CIty have severely deteriorated the water quality of its canals. The environmental area considered part of UNESCO's world heritage program has been neglected by city authorities allowing the urbanization of it to continue. The waters in the canal once fresh water are now refilled continuously by the city's water commission from treated or recyled sewage waters.

The illegal and controlled urbanization of the chinampas (floating gardends) of the district of Xochimilco located in the south of Mexico CIty have severely deteriorated the water quality of its canals. The environmental area considered part of UNESCO's world heritage program has been neglected by city authorities allowing the urbanization of it to continue. The waters in the canal once fresh water are now refilled continuously by the city's water commission from treated or recyled sewage waters.

The city has expanded from being a mere 30 square miles in 1950 to 3,000 square miles by 2010. Development has surely kept the city vibrant and attractive, but the increase of roads has not diminished traffic which continues to fill the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. The concrete and asphalt covering the city, in the overcrowded hills for example, forces the rainwaters to take the natural course of the rivers that once existed but now, since it can no longer seep into the ground, the waters cause landslides and flooding as they drag with them enormous amounts of garbage clogging the sewage system. Add to this the deforestation of the hills surrounding the valley and it’s impossible to admit that man has created a new environment.

 Residents of the southern district of Xochimilco in Mexico City line up to fenced well to collect drinking water. In theory only residents of the area are permitted to do so and in regulated hours. The residents once used to simply take water from the canals or from the springs but they have now been tapped and must feed the entire water system for the Mexican capital which suffers from water shortages.

Residents of the southern district of Xochimilco in Mexico City line up to fenced well to collect drinking water. In theory only residents of the area are permitted to do so and in regulated hours. The residents once used to simply take water from the canals or from the springs but they have now been tapped and must feed the entire water system for the Mexican capital which suffers from water shortages.

In order to keep the Mexican capital from flooding, the city and the federal government began in 2007 the construction of the TEO (Easter Emitting Tunnel) and the Atotonilco residual water plant (fourth largest in the world), both still not completed. The TEO, which connects to the Grand Canal, is twenty meters in diameter and extends 60 kilometers from the north of the city to the Atotonilco plant. It has been highly contested as still being insufficient.

The consensus amongst the political class working with engineers, environmentalists, scientists and the society at large is that the problems are evident and the resources exist but corruption, electoral preferences and the lack of political will hinder the entire situation. 

Mexico City today is no longer able to grow horizontally, there is simply no more space. The city now has a vertical building boom of malls, offices and apartments that is unprecedented. These ventures will only stress the water system further. The city parliament once had a proposal that all new buildings had to collect their own rainwater, unfortunately it has never been implemented and would have considerably changed the protocol for the city. In the meantime, a new airport is being built, with green intentions so far in words alone, but again, it’s being done precisely on a dried bed lake. 

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

 Workers operating and building walls with a boring machine inside what has been billed as the world's largest drainage tunnel, TEO (Tunel Emisor Oriente) will serve as an alternative to Mexico City's Emisor Central drainage tunnel, and will double the city's discharge capacity to 150m3/s to cope with heavy precipitation during the rainy season. 

Workers operating and building walls with a boring machine inside what has been billed as the world's largest drainage tunnel, TEO (Tunel Emisor Oriente) will serve as an alternative to Mexico City's Emisor Central drainage tunnel, and will double the city's discharge capacity to 150m3/s to cope with heavy precipitation during the rainy season. 

 Mexicans enjoy a sunday night around a sewage suction pit with a water fountain at it's surface in downtown Mexico City.

Mexicans enjoy a sunday night around a sewage suction pit with a water fountain at it's surface in downtown Mexico City.

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Technobodies


© Guido Castagnoli

Technobodies


© Guido Castagnoli

"TECHNOBODIES" is an investigation on Berlin´s young Techno music raving scene, opening questions about the concepts of identity and representation of 'self' in our contemporary society.

When people ask me what it is TECHNOBODIES -I always like to say initially that this is not work about Techno. I mean, it is but this is not what I´m really interested in (I´m not a clubber myself nor a Techno music fan). I´m interested in the individual people. In the single brick that, together with others, build up a movement, a culture, a community. How they behave in order to became and feel part of this culture. The way they dress. Their tattoos. Their idea about gender and sex (Techno in Berlin is strictly related to sex and gender matters). Which are their inner impulse, what they need, what they are seeking for. "Techno is freedom". I have heard this sentence many many times while I was working on this project.

Berlin has a long and strong history related to the freedom of expression. The Techno scene is one of the many different manifestations of that freedom in this city. But not just freedom: desire of acceptance, homologation, addiction and obsession are often the price people in this community have to pay in order to achieve that freedom. A paradox that we find in many other different aspect of our contemporary society.
-Guido Castagnoli

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Queejna/Queen


© Elin Berge

Queejna/Queen


© Elin Berge

The show consists of 34 images

62x78cm: 4
70x90cm: 11
78x100cm: 4
100x127cm: 5
160x130: 2

 

click to see all the images in the show

The exhibition Queejna/Queen shows women with different backgrounds and opportunities in a number of photographic works by Elin Berge taken between 2004 – 2018. The women portrayed have in common that they are often seen as provoking to their surroundings or perceived as victims for social and/or religious norms in society. The photographs ask questions like: What is real love? What is male/female? Who is entitled to the female body?

The title of the exhibition Queejna/Queen showcases the duality of the word queejna, which the Västerbotten-born writer Sara Lidman used in the meaning of ”woman”. The word queejna can also mean the “queen of the house”, i.e. a powerful woman, as she applied it when she described Hagar, the wild independent woman in the epic The Railway. Hagar was also called ”främmenqueejna”, which, with a postmodern interpretation, can be read as ”The Other”. Berge has with her camera sought to find groups of women that, in different ways, are dealt with as ”The Other”, thus embracing Sara Lidmans term Queejna.

 © Björn Grankvist/Murberget

© Björn Grankvist/Murberget

Berge uses her camera to look for alternative interpretations of an apparently obvious situation. The photographs return our gaze to ourselves. What do we really think about the women’s life choices and what does it tell us about ourselves as observers? The exhibition includes, among other things, portraits of young Muslim women in the project Veils, which testify to how a hijab can provide freedom in a sexist community. The work challenges a general view of the veil as a religious symbol and we ask ourselves who is free or oppressed in society. In the same room as the exhibition is the work The Awakening which portrays a group of women who find the freedom to affirm their naked bodies. The groups may seem far apart, but on closer inspection, have something in common in their longing for being a woman without the condemnatory view of society. In the series The Land of Queens and The Kingdom, the image of Thai women who emigrated to our country and married Swedish men is nuanced. The work explores major questions about migration, power structures, freedom of choice as human beings, welfare and love.

 © Björn Grankvist/Murberget

© Björn Grankvist/Murberget

Through Berge’s eyes, all women appear as individuals in their own right. She focuses on their actions and strengths, even in a reality that includes oppressive structures. For future generations of young women and men, a nuanced image of our world is important as an injection against prejudices, which can contribute to a more tolerant environment.

In the exhibition Queejna/Queen, Berge shows pictures from the previous series Suicide Girls (2004), Veils (2006), Bare Breasts (2008), The Land of Queens (2009) and The Kingdom (2015), and newer works like Predators (2018) and The Awakening (work in progress).

Texts: Susanne Fessé

Predators (2018)

In the series Predators, Elin Berge portrays women hunting elk in the forests of Västerbotten. These photographs show strong, proud and confident people in a historical male domain. Neither fear or worry is seen in their eyes when they control nature and death. Their big rifles, the colossal animals, the blood on their hands, and a thick fog in the ancient forests further contribute to creating a sense of human strength and security.

"Eva, Rabnaträsket, 2016" 
From the series Predators (2018)

 "Sofia with her son Joar, Guövddielisgielas, 2016"  From the series Predators (2018)

"Sofia with her son Joar, Guövddielisgielas, 2016" 
From the series Predators (2018)

The environment, a sublime forest landscape in which only people with significant knowledge of nature would survive without today's modern techniques, cement the sense of control among the depicted women. A hunter provides food for his or her family, by going out into the forest to kill animals.

When women take this position, it is still something that makes some people stop and reflect on accustomed structures in society. In one of the photographs, an elderly woman is holding a severed elk's head in front of her body. This photograph has a deeper meaning to the young girls who grow up today, a strong role model and an opportunity to question accustomed patterns and predetermined thinking about what is female and male.

To own one's body

In a number of works, Elin Berge depicts how different groups of women want to reclaim the right to their own bodies and change the way other people see them. Pre-conceived notions concerning nudity, liberation, and seeing the veil as either an oppressive symbol or a protective tool, are represented here as women's collective desire to have power over their own bodies.

 "Filippa and Frida, The Pride Festival, Stockholm, 2008" From the series Merely Breasts (2008)

"Filippa and Frida, The Pride Festival, Stockholm, 2008"
From the series Merely Breasts (2008)

 Reagan, Shera and Stormy backstage, The Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, 2004"  From the series Suicide Girls (2004)

Reagan, Shera and Stormy backstage, The Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, 2004" 
From the series Suicide Girls (2004)

The group depicted in the series Bare Breasts claims the right to go to, among many places, public bathhouses with a nude upper body. The series The Awakening shows a group of women that come together in spiritual gatherings to embrace their sexuality and their bodies.

 "Shema, Stockholm, 2005" From the series Veils (2006)

"Shema, Stockholm, 2005"
From the series Veils (2006)

 "Leyla, Stockholm, 2005" From the series Veils (2006)

"Leyla, Stockholm, 2005"
From the series Veils (2006)

The series Veils depicts young Muslim women who all carry hijabs, a religious symbol but also an opportunity for bodily freedom in a sexualized world. The photographs in the series Suicide Girls show women belonging to alternative sub-cultures, who by showing themselves in nude pictures online, want to broaden the common concept of what female sexuality can look like.

Elin Berges work raises questions about the body’s neutrality and how far you can go before the line is crossed and it turns into provocation. The women’s attire/nudity gives us a nuanced view on bodily freedom.

The land of Queens (2009) and The Kingdom (2015)

In Sweden, there is nearly 30 000 people that are born in Thailand, most of them women. In the series The land of Queens and The Kingdom, we get to meet people from two rural areas, Västerbotten in Sweden and Isaan in north-eastern Thailand, who's fates have been linked together in a dream of a mutually life.

The subject “migration marriage”, or in popular speech called “love migration”, is seen by many as provocative. Elin Berge wanted to try to understand the driving force behind the decision to establish oneself in a new environment, culture and family. Many of the women in the project share their dreams of a better life, the will to mean something to your family and the thought of breaking the chains of an earlier life situation.

 "Birger and Gi, Lögda, 2007 " From the series The Land Of Queens (2009)

"Birger and Gi, Lögda, 2007 "
From the series The Land Of Queens (2009)

 "Thitaree, Fredrika, 2008" From the series The Land Of Queens (2009)

"Thitaree, Fredrika, 2008"
From the series The Land Of Queens (2009)

The photographs seem to approach the question – what is real love? There are many answers but none of them are easy.

Elin Berge has, for over ten years, followed women who have lived in Sweden for a long time as well as those who have just arrived. The work depicts happiness and disappointment, daily chores and holidays. Women and men who all long for safety, love and respect show a nuanced picture. The photographs highlight that simple answers can evoke important questions about love and life.

 

The show was first exhibited at Murberget, County Museum of Västernorrland

 © Björn Grankvist/Murberget

© Björn Grankvist/Murberget

 © Björn Grankvist/Murberget

© Björn Grankvist/Murberget

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EXIT Wonderland


© Tine Poppe

EXIT Wonderland


© Tine Poppe

Tine Poppe’s work is a combination of fiction and non-fiction, of surreal landscapes and highly charged political quotations, of a haunting, almost nightmarish present and a dystopian future. She plays with photographic genres in clever and disturbing ways. In fact, she is one of the few photographers to be highly political without concentrating on the faces of the candidates during this recent US election season. As a result, her work is both local and global in its stance.
— FRED RITCHIN, Dean of the School ICP International Center of Photography, New York, USA

A science-fiction notion of a European's fascination with the post-human and unreal feeling of the American desert and urban landscapes. The images created, inspired and exaggerated by the 2016 US presidential election and it's possible worst outcome.  All image titles are Donald Trump quotes.

Winner and special distinction LensCulture Emerging Talents Award 2016

Honourable Mention IPA AWARDS 2016

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

"I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding", Donald Trump

"Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich", Donald Trump

"Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it!", Donald Trump

"The point is, you can never be too greedy", Donald Trump

"When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades!", Donald Trump

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Peru’s Empleadas


© Susana Raab

Peru’s Empleadas


© Susana Raab

Empleada, niñera, nana, chacha, muchacha – these are the names identifying the domestic workers of South America, signifying employee, nanny, cleaning person, cook, servant.  It is a shock for some foreigners to realize the ubiquity of the empleada in Latin American life. “We cannot live without our empleadas,” many a Limeña has told me.  And in developing economies, where the stratification of rich and poor is vast, these occupations do allow some women to come from the countryside and study in the city, and improve their prospects and potential.  “Música de Plancha” a Latin American ballad form is so called because of it’s popularity among servants performing household tasks (ironing music). 

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Trabajadores del Hogar" (domestic workers) occupy one of the lowest stratums of Peru's very hierarchal social system.  A significant portion of these employees come from indigenous communities in Peru's interior provinces, seeking opportunity, education, and support for their families in the provinces, they are reliant on the benevolence of their employers to not exploit them.  Their continued existence is emblematic of the institutionalization of oppression of racial minorities in Peru. It is estimated that there are at least half a million women who work as domestic workers in Peru, with approximately 67% of that. number working in Lima. Yet the Law of Household Workers (Law Nº 27986) protecting their rights and establishing employment guidelines has only been on the books since 2003.  While this law guarantees them rights of renumeration, social security and pensions, and maximum working hours (48 hours/week) it does not guarantee a minimum wage and many employees are unaware of their rights to this day. The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP) reported that for 2017 50% have social security and 46% health insurance, indicating a disparity between rights and compliance to Law No. 27986.

 

More recently groups like Casa Panchita, a social service organization dedicated to education and support of domestic workers and other groups are raising awareness of the plight of household laborers.  In the exclusive seaside resort of Asia, ninety kilometers south of Lima, where household workers were forbidden from swimming in the beach until after 7 pm, a January 28, 2007 protest "Operativo Empleada Audaz" (Operation Bold Employee) called for the elimination of discriminatory restrictions for "empleadas del hogar" (household servants).  Members of human rights organizations, artists, and household employee social service organizations dressed in the uniforms of household servants and entered the private beachside community to fight "ethnic, social, and cultural discrimination prevailing in Peru" according to the Mesa Contra Racismo, a human rights organization. With chants of "The beach belongs to everyone and not the racists," and uniformed girls affirming, "We are employed and we are citizens!" the crowd formed a human chain along Playa Asia demanding equal access to Peru's beaches.

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Yet the prevailing public attitude of disdain remains: All over Lima, "Nanas" or nannies and other empleadas gather to watch over their young charges and chat in the public parks of the upscale neighborhoods of Miraflores and San Isidro.  A 2015 op-ed in Lima's paper of record, El Commercio, discussed a prevailing attitude among some Limeñas regarding these public gatherings of Peru's domestic servants: "My mom always complains about the park because there are too many nannies."  The statement is exemplary of the inchoate attitudes towards these working class peoples right to exist in the public sphere. The displeasure at the sight of lower-class workers congregating in the performance of their duties is the manifestation of a silent but tangible prejudice. There are more overt signs of discrimination as well: Some Limeño private clubs have been accused of perpetuating the indignities against domestic employees by demanding that they utilize separate bathrooms. "They say we have germs," asserts Enrestina Ochoa Lujan, vice president of Sintrahogarp (the National Trade Union of Domestic Workers of Peru.)

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It is difficult to watch them, hovering on the periphery of family life, integral and seemingly invisible. Do they accept this fate as inevitable? Or consider themselves lucky to be part of a well-known family? Are they resigned to a situation where all they have ever known is lack of access to education and wealth-building? I cannot help but see similarities to the Jim Crow South in the United States, and wonder what it will take to provide greater opportunities to the lower classes that are so often disdained by those they serve. These photographs were taken during many visits to Lima over the past ten years.  

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Women Warriors of the Ukraine


© David Tesinsky

Women Warriors of the Ukraine


© David Tesinsky

This is the story of the women fighting the war in the east of Ukraine - in Donetsk and Luhansk region. Some women are only 22 years old, many of them are fighting against Russia since they are 18.

Photographer David Tesinsky spent time with the female warriors documenting the struggle. The tensions in the Donetsk and Luhansk region, Ukraine are very evident with regular shooting.  Russia is dependent on Ukraine and the whole thing seems to be a "hybrid war" since ex president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych turned against Ukraine and started to support Russia and this conflict.

 Yulia Tolopa (22 years old) Citizen of Russia, who volunteered to the Ukrainian Armed Forces; raises a daughter,  Yulia was born and grew up in Russia. She was fond of sports, and won the championship of Russia in assault hand-to-hand fighting. She came to Ukraine when the Revolution of Dignity began, because she did not believe Russian propaganda. She wanted to see real events with her own eyes. With the beginning of the war, she volunteered to the Aydar battalion to help her Ukrainian friends who, who love and defend their country and fight for freedom. By her act she wanted to prove that she condemns the policy of the Russian government and aggression against Ukraine. Yulia fought in the hottest spots of the East of Ukraine, first as a striker, then as an aerial reconnaissance officer. She was wounded twice. Yulia is on the wanted list of the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB), with three criminal cases opened against her. After her decision to defend Ukraine, Yulia lost her family's support, her parents agreed to facilitate her detention in the territory of the Russian Federation. Her current family is a little daughter who was born in Ukraine and lives in Kyiv with the friends. Yulia decided to stay in Ukraine forever and to applied for the Ukrainian citizenship.

Yulia Tolopa (22 years old)
Citizen of Russia, who volunteered to the Ukrainian Armed Forces; raises a daughter,

Yulia was born and grew up in Russia. She was fond of sports, and won the championship of Russia in assault hand-to-hand fighting. She came to Ukraine when the Revolution of Dignity began, because she did not believe Russian propaganda. She wanted to see real events with her own eyes. With the beginning of the war, she volunteered to the Aydar battalion to help her Ukrainian friends who, who love and defend their country and fight for freedom. By her act she wanted to prove that she condemns the policy of the Russian government and aggression against Ukraine. Yulia fought in the hottest spots of the East of Ukraine, first as a striker, then as an aerial reconnaissance officer. She was wounded twice. Yulia is on the wanted list of the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB), with three criminal cases opened against her. After her decision to defend Ukraine, Yulia lost her family's support, her parents agreed to facilitate her detention in the territory of the Russian Federation. Her current family is a little daughter who was born in Ukraine and lives in Kyiv with the friends. Yulia decided to stay in Ukraine forever and to applied for the Ukrainian citizenship.

 Yulia Mykytenko (22 years old) Ukrainian, soldier, reconnaissance platoon commander, married.  At the inception of the military conflict in the East of Ukraine, Yulia felt the surmountable desire to defend her country. Despite the fact that by education Yulia is a philologist, she volunteered to the Ukrainian army. During the execution of one of the combat missions, Yulia met her future husband. After marriage, she continued her military service to protect her homeland next to her husband in one battalion. Due to her personal qualities, courage and professionalism, Yulia became the platoon commander of the reconnaissance platoon when she was just 21 years old.

Yulia Mykytenko (22 years old)
Ukrainian, soldier, reconnaissance platoon commander, married.

At the inception of the military conflict in the East of Ukraine, Yulia felt the surmountable desire to defend her country. Despite the fact that by education Yulia is a philologist, she volunteered to the Ukrainian army. During the execution of one of the combat missions, Yulia met her future husband. After marriage, she continued her military service to protect her homeland next to her husband in one battalion. Due to her personal qualities, courage and professionalism, Yulia became the platoon commander of the reconnaissance platoon when she was just 21 years old.

 Nana (30 years old) Georgian, soldier of the Georgian National Legion, married with three children.  Nana is a professional soldier. Since 2008, she fights in the ranks of the well known Georgian National Legion, which supports the freedom and independence of Georgia and Ukraine. Since the beginning of the military conflict in the East of Ukraine, the Georgian National Legion has been rendering active assistance to Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression. Nana defends the integrity of Ukraine along with men: performs combat missions, renders the first medical aid to the wounded.  Nana has a family and three children back in Georgia.   

Nana (30 years old)
Georgian, soldier of the Georgian National Legion, married with three children.

Nana is a professional soldier. Since 2008, she fights in the ranks of the well known Georgian National Legion, which supports the freedom and independence of Georgia and Ukraine. Since the beginning of the military conflict in the East of Ukraine, the Georgian National Legion has been rendering active assistance to Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression. Nana defends the integrity of Ukraine along with men: performs combat missions, renders the first medical aid to the wounded.  Nana has a family and three children back in Georgia.

 

 Olya Benda.     She worked as a cook in one of the military brigades. She was wounded during the bombardment in the city of Avdeevka. After the mutilation of the foot, she returned to civilian life. Olya got married and brought up her son.

Olya Benda.

 

She worked as a cook in one of the military brigades. She was wounded during the bombardment in the city of Avdeevka. After the mutilation of the foot, she returned to civilian life. Olya got married and brought up her son.

Acknowledge support from international Visual Art Project Ukraine: Tiding Over

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Lenin's Malibu


© Stefano Majno

Lenin's Malibu


© Stefano Majno

Abkhazia

Crossing the tiny coastal country of Abkhazia, a Caucasian time capsule protecting the architectural soviet heritage within its borders dissolved elsewhere by the sun of the disintegration of the communist empire.

Abkhazia historically has always been the soviet riviera with the highest concentration of sanatoriums and hotels in the Black sea area but after the expulsion of more than 250,000 Georgians most of the new nation is uninhabited and abandoned. More than two decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse, the three-sided conflict involving breakaway Abkhazia, Georgia and Russia is far from a solution and the year 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the Georgian-Abkhaz war in 1992-1993.

Abkhazia, autonomous republic in northwestern Georgia declared independence in 2008, nowadays only a few countries recognize the new nation among which Russia that maintains a military presence in the region.  In recent years, Abkhazia has drifted closer and closer to Russia and in 2009 Moscow signed a five-year agreement with Abkhazia to take formal control of its frontiers.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive