IAM_00082817.jpg
IAM_00086191.jpg
IAM_00085942.jpg
IAM_00084761.jpg
IAM_00085630.jpg
IAM_00085175.jpg
IAM_00084764.jpg
CL_Disappearing_Glasgow-1.jpg
IAM_00084609.jpg
IAM_00084698.jpg
IAM_00083088.jpg
IAM_00084364.jpg
IAM_00084141.jpg
IAM_00083898.jpg
IAM_00081783.jpg
IAM_00082466.jpg
IAM_00083258.jpg
IAM_00085737.jpg
IAM_00082817.jpg

we tell stories


SCROLL DOWN

we tell stories


IAM_00086191.jpg

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). 

p_00086175.jpg
p_00086188.jpg

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.

p_00086177.jpg
p_00086179.jpg

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.)

p_00086176.jpg

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

IAM_00085942.jpg

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

IAM_00084761.jpg

Science Of Addiction


©  Max Aguilera Hellweg

Science Of Addiction


©  Max Aguilera Hellweg

p_00084749.jpg

In 1997, a one page article was published in the journal Science, “Addiction is a Disease of The Brain, and It Matters.” Written, by Alan Leshner, Director, of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Leshner’s paper, was the first to make the case and bring forth the notion, that addiction was a disease of the brain. Leshner based his claim on recent advances in neuroscience, citing research that, “virtually all drugs of abuse (had) common effects, either directly or indirectly, on a single pathway deep within the brain.” Known as the reward pathway, “activation of this system appears to be a common element in what keeps drug users taking drugs.” Further, Leshner wrote, “prolonged drug use cause(d) pervasive changes in brain function that persist long after the individual stops taking the drug,” and cited significant effects of chronic use that had been identified, “molecular, cellular, structural, and functional. The addicted brain,” he wrote, “is distinctly different from the non-addicted brain in brain metabolic activity, receptor availability, gene expression, and responsiveness to environmental cues,” and summed up his argument, now and forever forward know as the brain disease model of addiction, stating, “that addiction is tied to changes in brain structure and function is what makes it, fundamentally, a brain disease.” Proclaiming addiction a medical problem in 1997, was like comparing alcoholism to diabetes, indeed that is exactly what it is, and does not conform to our common held beliefs and views— that drug addicts and alcoholics are weak, bad people, immoral, persons lacking an ability to control oneself, people who just can’t “say no.” Leshner confronted this issue in his landmark article, “The gulf in implications between the “bad person” view and the “chronic illness sufferer” view is tremendous. There are many people who believe that addicted individuals do not even deserve treatment.” Twenty years have passed since the brain disease model for addiction was introduced. It remains not widely known by the general public, nor is it fully known or accepted by the medical profession or those making public policy. The implications are indeed tremendous— we are in the midst of an Opiate Crisis in America, and its far more easy for a doctor to write a prescription opiate pain killers, yet far more difficult for a doctor to write one for.

p_00084763.jpg
p_00084757.jpg

Methadone, an opiate that does not get addicts “high”, but is used as maintenance therapy, much like insulin for diabetics, to get addicts through the day, and get them off heroin. Addiction remains so poorly understood, last year, the newly elected president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, vowed to kill 3 million addicts (having already killed an estimated 3,000 in the first few months his presidency.) NIDA has focused their research not just on the brain, but on genetics — looking for a genetic link, they’ve not found one yet; and on the behavioral and social mechanisms involved. But their core research remains focused on the brain.  And addiction researcher has been focused on finding targets for treatment in the brain.  Baclofen, a generic medication used to treat muscle spasms, was accidentally found to treat cocaine addiction by a paralyzed cocaine addicted patient at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1990s, and was found to cure alcoholism, by an alcoholic treating himself in Paris; the use of Transmagnetic Stimulation to treat cocaine addiction, was stumbled by chance by a researcher in Padua, Italy.  All three treatments work  by actions on the Dopamine Reward Pathway and related circuitry in the brain, but not all is understood,  and more work and much more continues to be done.  Another major area of focus is the Pre-Frontal Cortex. What researchers found in the Pre-Frontal Cortex the area of the brain involved in judgement and decision making— and these findings have been identified  across the broad range of substances of abuse and the behavioral addictions. There is a reason why addicts make poor decisions for themselves.  A crucial if not fundamental necessity of current addiction research is to eliminate the stigma of addiction and promote wider recognition of addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease.  When this happens, a new era of addiction treatment and how we view addicts and reatment will be upon us.

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

IAM_00085630.jpg

Drummies


© Alice Mann

Drummies


© Alice Mann

These images focus on the drum majorettes at Dr Van Der Ross Primary School, located in one of the poorest areas of Cape Town, where gang violence and drug abuse is prevalent. At the school and in the wider community, there is an aspirational culture around school’s team, affectionately known as the ‘drummies’.

p_00085625.jpg

While there have been various debates around the notions of femininity that drum majorettes represent, at many South African schools, it is taken seriously as a competitive sport. For the girls at this school, being a ‘drummie’ is a privilege and an achievement, indicative of success on and off the field. It gives them a positive focus and sense of belonging, providing them with structure in a community where opportunities are limited. ‘Drummies’ is vehicle through which they can excel. 

This is part of my on-going work, exploring notions of femininity and empowerment in modern society. I hope to communicate the pride and confidence that these girls have achieved through identifying as ‘drummies’ in a context where they face many social challenges.  

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

IAM_00085175.jpg

Cartographies of Man


© Richard John Seymour

Cartographies of Man


© Richard John Seymour

Romanian Landscapes

Humans have always adapted to their environment, and adapted their environments to suit themselves, but we are now adapting our planet to fulfil the will of global forces, market movements, and political manifestations. This is an environment shaped not by natural movements, but by ideologies. In this context the role of land, city, and economy are becoming inseparable as a globalised system that the individual is left with no choice but to find a place within.

Lake Tașaul, a lagoon bordering the Petromidia refinery close to Constanta on the Black Sea.

Lake Tașaul, a lagoon bordering the Petromidia refinery close to Constanta on the Black Sea.

Continuing his long-term and ongoing body of landscape work, BAFTA nominated film-maker and photographer Richard John Seymour’s newest project brings Romania into focus. After being awarded the Romanian Cultural Institute Grant for Foreign Journalists in 2015, he travelled there to focus on the environmental issues of a country still dealing with the trauma of communism and post-industrialisation.

From the underground Salt Mines discovered in the 11th century now used as a subterranean theme park, to Europe’s largest onshore wind farm, to entirely submerged villages sacrificed for the gain of a nearby Copper Mine, to the sites of the ‘worst environmental disaster in Europe since Chernobyl’, Romania’s landscape is filled with narrative, contradiction, and projections of failed and future visions for a better (or more profitable) world.

Referencing techniques of 19th century painters to carry allegory and narrative through depictions of landscape, Cartographies of Man aims to question the nature of landscape in the 21st century and bring into discussion issues surrounding the environment, our conception of it, and ultimately our compatibility with our own planet.

At the entrance to Lacul Morii in Bucharest, men from the area converge to fish on the ice.

At the entrance to Lacul Morii in Bucharest, men from the area converge to fish on the ice.

IAM_00084764.jpg

Wild West


© Mathias Depardon

Wild West


© Mathias Depardon

p_00084766.jpg
p_00084765.jpg

Hotan is an important city on the southern branch of the Silk Road. It’s a Saturday night evening. I’m in the city since several days and my flight back to Urumqi has been canceled due to a sand storm in the region. It’s been 3 weeks I’m in Xinjiang photographing the Chinese Wild West.

China's Xinjiang province is the country's most westerly region, bordering on the former Soviet states of Central Asia, as wellas several other states including Afghanistan, Russia, and Mongolia. The largest ethnic group, the Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uighurs, has lived in China's shadow for centuries. The region has had an intermittent history of autonomy and occasional independence, but was finally brought under Chinese control in the 18th century.

My hotel located on the People’s Square (The City main square) of the city where a big statue of Mao Zedong is hand shaking a local Uighur. For this small city of Southern Xinjiang mostly inhabited by Uighurs the People’s Square represent a large perimeter with an invisible border dividing the square into two parts, the Uighurs and the Han Chinese with this occasion armed Chinese military all around and in the middle of the square. On one part of the square the Han Chinese are into their Tango dance classes with speakers bursting Chinese Tango music. On the other side a traditional Uighurs show, with traditional music, costumes and dance is taking place at the bottom of the Statue of Mao on a permanent stage.

p_00084771.jpg

The situation, which may appear quite surrealist for a foreigner, seems totally normal for the locals which share this music chaos and fake appearance of cross culture which rather seem like culture assimilation is in fact the essence of fraction and division of a society in this part of Western China.

In the 2000 census Han Chinese made up 40 per cent of the population of Xinjiang, excluding large numbers of troops stationed in the region and unknown numbers of unregistered migrants, and Uighurs accounted for about 45 per cent.

Economic development of the region under Communist rule has been accompanied by large-scale immigration of Han Chinese, and Uighur allegations of discrimination and marginalization have been behind more visible anti-Han and separatist sentiment since the 1990s. This has flared into violence on occasion these past years.

p_00084777.jpg

International attention turned to Xinjiang in July 2009 when bloody clashes between Uighurs and Han Chinese in the region's main city, Urumqi, prompted the Chinese government to send large numbers of troops to patrol the streets. Nearly 200 people were killed in the unrest, most of them Han, according to officials.

Protests against Chinese rule had already emerged in the 1990s, to which the Chinese authorities reacted forcefully. Protests resumed in March 2008 in the cities of Urumqi and Hotan, and spread to Kashgar and elsewhere through the summer - coinciding with the Olympic Games in Beijing. There were reports of bus bombings and attacks on police stations.

Beijing has sought to deal with the unrest with a mix of repression and efforts to stimulate the region's economy, including through increased investment by state-owned firms.

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

CL_Disappearing_Glasgow-1.jpg

Disappearing Glasgow


© Chris Leslie

Disappearing Glasgow


© Chris Leslie

The skyline of Glasgow has been radically transformed as high rise tower blocks have been blown down and bulldozed. 35% of the cities High Rise flats have disappeared since 2006, communities dispersed across the city and the East End has 'been raised from the ashes' via the Commonwealth Games. Does this Disappearing Glasgow herald a renaissance in the city? 

CL_Disappearing_Glasgow-3.jpg

BAFTA Scotland New Talent award winning Photographer and filmmaker Chris Leslie is widely acknowledged as the most consistent chronicler of the city’s recent history.   This 10 year long term multimedia project ‘Disappearing Glasgow’ documents an era of spectacular change in Glasgow through photography and video.

www.disappearing-glasgow.com

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

IAM_00084609.jpg

Sophia


© Giulio Di Sturco

Sophia


© Giulio Di Sturco

SingularityNet is currently working on creating an open source decentralized AI platform running on the blockchain. This network of AIs will provide AI as a service in an unprecedentedly diverse and open way. As well as a superior practical service, the SingularityNet will serve as a platform for the self-organization and emergence of increasing levels of Artificial General Intelligence, via the collaborative activity of the AI developer and user communities and the AIs they build and use.

The company is led by Dr. Ben Goertzel, renowned as the father of Artificial General Intelligence, the leader of the OpenCog AGI project and the organizer of the prestigious annual AGI conference series.

We can imagine SingularityNET being a sort of an “AI app store” where apps can not only serve users’ needs, but invoke each other’s help to complete their tasks or projects.  

The first complex AI system to be realized on the SingularityNET will be an AI brain for Sophia Hanson — the most sophisticated humanoid robot ever built. The new version of Sophia’s mind, currently under development by SingularityNET in conjunction with Hong Kong firm Hanson Robotics, will be a core node of the blockchain. Her intelligence will be plugged in the network for everyone’s benefit and will also receive input and wisdom from everyone's algorithms.  Sophia’s mind will be constantly fed with new content from SingularityNET, while at the same time helping to power the network with its human-like intelligence.

p_00084550.jpg

Saudi Arabia granted the status of Citizen to Sophia, that became the first robot to be recognized as a citizen.

 

IAM_00084698.jpg

Brave New Turkey


© Norman Behrendt

Brave New Turkey


© Norman Behrendt

Greetings from Turkey  11 x 13.6 cm 2 different covers 17 postcards on grooved printed sheets English July 2017 Hartmann Projects ISBN 978-3-96070-013-5

Greetings from Turkey 
11 x 13.6 cm
2 different covers
17 postcards on grooved printed sheets
English
July 2017
Hartmann Projects
ISBN 978-3-96070-013-5

Brave New Turkey is based on a conceptual approach to documenting newly built mosques in a Neo-Ottoman-Style in the urban landscape of Ankara and Istanbul.

Since 2015, Norman Behrendt has regularly travelled to Turkey and visited the sprawling suburban districts of both cities. These rapidly built, endless suburban high-rise developments are a manifestation of Turkey’s economic boom. Along with massive housing construction has come a second massive construction project: mosques. Behrendt’s work reflects this phenomenon as a symbol of change and power that reaches beyond national borders.

Çiğdem Mosque, in construction, Keçiören, Ankara, 2017

Çiğdem Mosque, in construction, Keçiören, Ankara, 2017

Returning Turkey to the glories and origins of its Ottoman past and ending Atatürk’s secular constitution has been one of the primary goals of Recep Erdoğan throughout his long rule of Turkey since 2003, first as prime minister and now as president with growing executive powers. Thanks to the country’s recent economic boom, the AKP, Erdoğan’s party, has improved healthcare, urban infrastructure and prosperity, but on the other hand has also made control of religious affairs a priority. The Diyanet (Directorate for Religious Affairs) fulfills this role and helps to legitimize the religious backswing of Turkey. In less than a decade, its budget has quadrupled to over $2 billion per year, and it employs over 120,000 people, making it one of Turkey’s largest institutions — bigger than the Ministry of Interior.

In recent years the Diyanet has become a political instrument for the government to reshape Turkey and intensify control over the people. The Diyanet is the main investor for thousands of the newly built mosques in Turkey and abroad. As most of them are built in a Neo-Ottoman style with their distinctive domes and minarets, they follow precisely the architectural tradition of Mimar Sinan (1490 - 1588), the master of classical Ottoman architecture. Since 1987, the number of mosques in Turkey has grown from 60,000 to more than 85,000 in 2013, an increase of almost 1,000 mosques per annum.

The newly constructed mosques attest the evident political influence on urban planning, but more importantly on Turkish society. Brave New Turkey is less about architecture in a classical sense, but rather how architecture reflects power and how ideologies are manifested in it. It reflects a newly tied compound of religious and cultural identity, against the backdrop of a constant exclusion of minorities, a reckless fight against those whose convictions are different and an unresolved question of what is Turkish identity?

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

IAM_00083088.jpg

Proving Ground


© David Maisel

Proving Ground


© David Maisel

For more than three decades, Maisel's work has considered how human-made spaces are politicized and transformed through processes of industrialization, geo-engineering, and militarization. Proving Ground is a photographic investigation utilizing documentation, abstraction, and time-based media of the classified military landscape of Dugway Proving Ground. 

In 2003, while making aerial photographs around Utah’s Great Salt Lake as part of his Terminal Mirage series, he encountered a site in the Tooele Valley, near the western slope of the Oquirrh Mountains. Positioned along the desert floor in uniform rows were hundreds of small buildings. What Maisel eventually learned about this gridded array was extraordinary — the buildings comprise the Tooele Army Depot, and they hold thirty million pounds of ageing chemical weapons, including mustard gas and nerve agents such as sarin and tabun.

Learning about the transformation of the region’s landscape into a repository of weapons of mass destruction triggered many questions. And those questions—pertaining to issues of chemical and biological weapons, land use in the American West, how space becomes militarized and politicized, the ways in which such sites are made off-limits, and thereby invisible—led directly to Dugway Proving Ground, some 45 miles southwest of Tooele.

p_00083096.jpg
p_00083095.jpg

Since its inception in 1942, Dugway has been devoted to the development and testing of chemical and biological weapons and defense programs. It is a site of dark creativity, used by the military to design the shape of conflicts and wars to come. Dugway’s isolated setting in Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert, in tandem with its scale of some 800,000 acres (larger than the state of Rhode Island), make it particularly suited to working with virulent substances like anthrax, sarin, plague, the botulinum toxin, and other chemical and biological agents. Despite its massive size, Dugway remains nearly invisible: not only is it located, by necessity, in an extremely remote area, but it is rarely discussed in the media and is almost entirely closed to civilian visitors. On aeronautical charts, the militarized airspace of Dugway is labeled “Restricted R-6402 A” and pilots are cautioned of “Special Military Activity.” Despite these obstacles to access, upon learning of its existence and its mission, I became captivated by the idea of making photographs there.

In 2004, Maisel's initial request to the Pentagon for permission to photograph Dugway was denied. In 2013, he met Richard Danzig, a former Secretary of Navy and chairman of the Center for a New American Security, a think tank focused on national security issues. Maisel presented him with a copy of his book, Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime, and described his interest in looking at Dugway in similar terms, as part of the evolution of the American West. Danzig introduced Maisel to James Petro, the Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Chemical and Biological Defense. In 2014, with his support, David Maisel received permission from the Pentagon to make photographs at Dugway Proving Ground, provided he was “comfortable with a few requirements that they have to ensure everyone’s safety, security, and continued success of their ongoing activities.”

p_00083091.jpg

Every site he has been permitted to photograph thus far at Dugway Proving Ground has been highly vetted by layers of military personnel, and Maisel is accompanied at all times by a military representative. However, he has also been granted an extraordinary degree of access to work in zones that are otherwise restricted from civilian view. Maisel began by photographing from the ground, focusing on structures related to the testing of chemical warfare dispersal patterns, as well as high-tech laboratories devoted to the detection and decontamination of chemical and biological toxins. More recently, he has shifted to an aerial perspective, making photographs of biological test grids and dispersal patterns inscribed directly into the raw desert floor. Looking down from above reveals colossal weapons testing sites that are carved into the land, nested circles and crosshatched grids, as though the abstract drawings of Agnes Martin or Sol Lewitt have been taken to a poisonous extreme. The gridded landscape becomes a measuring device against which dispersal rates, toxicity levels, and threats to the human body are measured. 

Proving Ground investigates the colonization, militarization, and mutation of the desert of the American West into a repository for toxic substances. Maisel wishes to question the ideological forces yielding these changes, and to underscore the need for greater understanding of how these transformations – both physical and political – occur. 

There is a myth of the American West that Proving Ground seeks to interrogate: the national frontier as a locus of the pure and the sublime, or as a setting for what the photographer Robert Adams has termed “a landscape of mistakes.” 

At the crux of Proving Ground lies the question of what we demand from the land of the American West. What needs does it fulfill, and to what has it been sacrificed? Dugway is a strangely compelling terra incognita that offers the opportunity to reflect on who and what we are collectively, as a society. In the more than thirty years that Maisel has made photographs of contested sites throughout this region, none has seemed to encapsulate the difficult and problematic realities of our present day as much as Dugway Proving Ground.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

IAM_00084364.jpg

Korean Dream


© Filippo Venturi

Korean Dream


© Filippo Venturi

Between 1905 and 1945 Korea was dominated by the Japanese, thus becoming a colony of the Empire. In 1945, after Japan's defeat, Korea was involved in the Cold War and became an object of interest for the USA, the URSS and lately for China as well. This brought to the division of the country in two along the 38th parallel and to the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. On the 27th of July of 1953, an armistice was signed but a declaration of peace never followed, leaving the country in a permanent state of conflict.

p_00084370.jpg

North Korea is officially a socialist State with formal elections but in fact, it is a totalitarian dictatorship based on the cult of the Kim dynasty, practically an absolute monarchy. Since 1948 the country was ruled by Kim Il-Sung, the “Great Leader”; in 1994 his son, Kim Jong-II the “Dear Leader” succeeded him and until in 2011 Kim Jong-Un, his son, the “Brilliant Comrade” became Supreme Leader.

North Korea is one of the most secluded countries in the world, we know little about it and the citizens' rights are subdued to the country's needs. Citizens have no freedom of speech, media are strictly controlled, you can travel only with authorization and it is not allowed to leave the country. The few foreign travellers who get the visa can travel the country only with authorized Korean guides, who have also the task of controlling, censoring and finding spies. 

p_00084366.jpg

Pyongyang, the capital, is the centre of all the resources and the country's ambition to boast a strong and modern façade (the rest of North Korea is composed of countryside, rice-fields and villages usually with no water, electricity or gas).

The continuous and incessant propaganda against the US portraits the South Korean population as a victim of the American invasion; young generations live in a constant alert state as if the USA could attack any day. At the same time, the propaganda aims at instilling a great sense of pride for the country's technical progression, fueled by the Supreme Leader and culminating in the atomic bomb and the subsequent tests.

Pyongyang youngsters have been educated to be learned and knowledgeable people, especially in the scientific field, to foster the development of armaments and technology, chasing the dream of reuniting Korea in a whole and free state.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

IAM_00084141.jpg

Purification in the Smoke Sauna


© Joakim Eskildsen

Purification in the Smoke Sauna


© Joakim Eskildsen

This work was commissioned by The New York Times Magazine and ran in The Voyages issue (Sept 2017)

This work was commissioned by The New York Times Magazine and ran in The Voyages issue (Sept 2017)

In the deciduous forests of southern Estonia, small cabins made of logs layered with moss dot the countryside. These are the smoke saunas — places to bathe bodies and cleanse spirits. The aromas of alder wood and stripped birch, burning below hot stones, waft through the air. Once the stones reach peak heat, the smoke is vented out with the help, it’s said, of a mythical “smoke eater.” Inside the cabin, a caretaker whisks visitors’ skin, delivering gentle beatings with a bouquet of leaves gathered, as at the sauna in Vorumaa at left, from the surrounding woods as the hot air alleviates the anxiety that comes with living in one of the world’s most technologically savvy populations. For three to five hours at a time, Estonians go back and forth from hot cabins to cold ponds nearby. Generations of Estonian families have marked the special occasions of life and death and healing in these small cottages and communal sweats — the oldest written references to the practice date back to at least the 13th century, and Unesco includes the tradition as a part of “the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.” But the tradition is productive, too: It turns freshly slaughtered livestock and wildlife into smoked meat to be eaten for a post-sauna meal. In a smoke sauna, you are meant to breathe deeply, to relax, to feel the heat and then to plunge into the chill of the pond. Jaime Lowe

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

IAM_00083898.jpg

Young, British & Muslim


© Alessia Gammarota

Young, British & Muslim


© Alessia Gammarota

In numerous cosmopolitan cities throughout the West, there is a younger generation of Muslim women have been recently more and more frequently choosing to express their identity and faith by wearing the hijab (the Islamic headscarf) and covered dresses. The veil is one of the most visible signs of Islam, and at the same time, one of the most contested. The generation who started proudly wearing it again consists of girls in their early twenties; young ladies brought up in the post 9/11 era, marked by accentuated public and media hostility towards women’s dressed bodies. Within Europe, this phenomenon is most visible in Great Britain, due to its multicultural character and lack of any formal regulation regarding openly religious attire. In order to fully understand the nature of this phenomenon, it is worth considering its various aspects.

p_00083887.jpg

First of all, the majority of those girls were either born in the UK, or they spent most of their life there, and similarly to other British girls of that age, they shop mainly at H&M and Primark.  However, they don’t feel fully represented by mainstream fashion, nor they can fully identify with the outfits worn by their mothers, considering them too traditional. Each day they have to face the conflicting expectations of their parents, friends, Islamic community and general society. As a result, these girls become more articulated and self-conscious with regards to clothing and solving the issues it creates. They experiment with mainstream fashion in order to develop an individual style which corresponds to their complex backgrounds, interests and concerns, simultaneously challenging the negative stereotypes of Muslims. The platform that connects them and enables the evolution of this phenomenon is the internet. Thanks to numerous blogs, online shops, YouTube tutorials and Facebook pages, these girls get the chance to share opinions and tips on how to be fashionable and Islamic at the same time. The result is a variety of Muslim dressing styles visible in the streets of multicultural British cities: from the more traditional forms of body and face covering as the niqab, to the colorful combinations of headscarves paired with covered outfits, loose or fitted. Such experiments in style are signs of the birth of “modern western Islamic fashion”. It is a contribution to the general change within Muslim dressing practice in contemporary societies, and brings the debate into the Islamic community. At the same time, the phenomenon also attracts the attention of non-Muslim part of the society and triggers reflection on issues such as: immigration, multiculturalism and relationship between Islam and Western culture. One of the most interesting personalities representing the Islamic street style fashion are: the half-Egyptian and half-British vlogger Dina Tokio, with her heterogeneous followers on YouTube; and Sarah Elenany - fashion designer, who is known for creating UK scouts uniforms, suitable both for Muslim and non-Muslim girls.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

IAM_00081783.jpg

White Gold


© Luca Locatelli

White Gold


© Luca Locatelli

The Majestic Marble Quarries of Northern Italy 

Article by Sam Anderson

The story of Italian marble is the story of difficult motion: violent, geological, haunted by failure and ruin and lost fortunes, marred by severed fingers, crushed dreams, crushed men. Rarely has a material so inclined to stay put been wrenched so insistently out of place and carried so far from its source; every centimeter of its movement has had to be earned. “There is no avoiding the tyranny of weight,” the art historian William E. Wallace once put it. He was discussing the challenge, in Renaissance Italy, of installing Michelangelo’s roughly 17,000-pound statue of the biblical David. This was the final stage of an epic saga that, from mountain to piazza, actually began before Michelangelo’s birth and involved primitive and custom-engineered machinery and, above all, great sweating armies of groaning, straining men. But the tyranny of weight was in effect long before that, and long after, and it remains in effect today.

p_00081798.jpg

What we admire as pristine white stone was born hundreds of millions of years ago in overwhelming darkness. Countless generations of tiny creatures lived, died and drifted slowly to the bottom of a primordial sea, where their bodies were slowly compressed by gravity, layer upon layer upon layer, tighter and tighter, until eventually they all congealed and petrified into the interlocking white crystals we know as marble. ‘‘Marmo,’’ the Italians call it — an oddly soft, round word for such a hard and heavy material. Some eons later, tectonic jostling raised a great spine of mountains in southern Europe. Up went the ancient sea floor, and the crystallized creatures went with it. In some places they rise more than 6,000 feet.

In Italy’s most marble-rich area, known as the Apuan Alps, the abundance is surreal. Sit on a beach in one of the nearby towns (Forte dei Marmi, Viareggio), and you appear to be looking up at snow-covered peaks. But it is snow that does not melt, that is not seasonal. Michelangelo sculpted most of his statues from this stone, and he was so obsessed with the region that he used to fantasize about carving an entire white mountain right where it stood. He later dismissed this, however, as temporary madness. ‘‘If I could have been sure of living four times longer than I have lived,’’ he wrote, ‘‘I would have taken it on.’’ Humans face limits that marble does not.

p_00081786.jpg

Besides, carving Italian marble at its place of origin is precisely not the point. Its major value has always derived from its removal. Hundreds of quarries have operated in the Apuan Alps since the days of ancient Rome. (The Romans harvested the stone with such manic intensity that it became the architectural signature of the empire’s power; Augustus liked to boast that he inherited a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.) These quarries are far off of Italy’s most-traveled tourist routes, so few visitors see them; most of us know Italian marble mainly as an endpoint in the chain of consumption — not only Renaissance statues in major museums but also tombstones, bookends and kitchen countertops in American McMansions. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding reportedly featured, as an extra touch of conspicuous luxury, furniture made of Italian marble.

The quarries themselves, as these photos by Luca Locatelli attest, are their own isolated world: beautiful, bizarre and severe. It is a self-contained universe of white, simultaneously industrial and natural, where men with finger-nubs stand on scenic cliffs conducting tractors like symphony orchestras. Over the centuries, the strange geology of the marble mountains has produced an equally strange human community — strange even by the standards of Italy’s fractious regional subcultures. The people there live in white towns, breathing white dust, speaking their own dialects, nursing their own politics. There is a proud history, in and around Carrara, of anarchism and revolt.

Although the tools of extraction have changed over the centuries — oxen and chisels have given way to tractors and diamond-toothed saws — the fact remains: Large pieces of white stone, cut and hauled to distant places, function as a sign of wealth and power. Like gold, marble is a special form of embedded wealth, visually striking and deeply impractical. Follow Italy’s

p_00081800.jpg

marble, and you follow the major movements of global wealth in human history, from ancient Rome to Victorian London to 20th-century New York. Today Italy’s marble tends to move farther than it did before — not just 200 miles to Rome or 700 miles to London but 3,000 miles to Abu Dhabi and 4,000 miles to Mumbai and 5,000 miles to Beijing. The centers of wealth have shifted, as they always will, and the marble follows, as it always has. The last decade has coincided with feverish marble-based construction, in particular, around Mecca in Saudi Arabia. In 2014, the Saudi Binladin Group, one of the region’s major construction firms, bought a large stake in one of Carrara’s largest quarries. The famous white stone is now used not in small batches for art but in bulk for huge building projects: mosques, palaces, malls, hotels.

How long can it hold out? Like North American timber or Antarctic ice, Italy’s marble is not an infinite resource. We will, eventually, reach the end of our ancient fund of calcified creatures, and the process that transformed them into stone is not likely to recur on any time scale we can imagine. These are cycles that outlast species. And although the white stone itself will almost certainly outlive its current quarriers, as it outlived the ancient Romans and Michelangelo, most of it will no longer be in the Apuan Alps: It will be scattered in this worldwide diaspora — in sinks, tiles, altars, skyscraper lobbies, busts.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive 

IAM_00082466.jpg

The Thirst Of The Dragon


Images © Giulio Di Sturco
Text © Thomas Saintourens

The Thirst Of The Dragon


Images © Giulio Di Sturco
Text © Thomas Saintourens

p_00082421.jpg
p_00082391 (1).jpg

A procession of silhouettes in red capes slowly crosses the cobbled streets of the village of St-Emilion, on the rainy morning of Sunday, September 17, 2017. The new dignitaries of the "Jurade", the party celebrating each September the harvest, are inducted in the most prestigious brotherhood of the most famous vineyard in the world. Among these vine VIPs - winemakers, oenologists, merchants - a young Chinese, smiling to the ears, struggling to follow the procession as he snaps selfies with his golden iPhone. Cheng-Chang Lu, just 40 years old, president of Golden Field - more than 4,000 supermarkets in Asia and 30 million members of his online sales app - can not contain his ecstasy. "Today I enter the family of wine," says this businessman. Mister Lu made the calculations: "I will be able to sell a million bottles a year in my stores. Currently, there are too many taxes, too many intermediaries. So, owning Bel Air, I control the chain from A to Z. "This businessman attired in a three-piece suit is one of seven new Chinese dignitaries of the 2017 promotion of the Jurade of Saint-Emilion. It symbolizes these investors, both lovers of great wines and connected traders, who place their pawns around Bordeaux and transform the industry. Lu acquired Bel Air chateau in January 2017.Bel Air is on the list of some 150 vineyard properties in Bordeaux now under Chinese ownership. 

p_00082437.jpg

The robot style portrait of the first Asian investors, landed only a decade ago, does not really stick to the pedigree of newcomers. The local winemakers remember, mocking but a little resigned too, pretentious billionaires mixing grand cru and coca-cola, Ferrari mired in the aisles of the vineyard squares, so many express bankruptcies. "By far, the vineyard looks sexy, but investing in wine is more complicated than expected," says Jean-Christophe Meyrou, Peter Kwok's right-hand man, the first Chinese (from Hong Kong) to have managed to build a small flourishing empire, around five properties (the "K" vineyards), including the Château Tour Saint Christophe, a grand cru of Saint-Emilion. "Those who last, like Mr. Kwok, are those who rely on quality, relying on the know-how of the locals. In this case, they can earn respect, and develop a profitable business. Where the pioneers, sometimes ill-advised, worked in the shadows, stirring suspicion and rumors, the new tycoons of the red are more readily displayed near their cellars, or even play the patrons in the city. Thus, on June 18, the sumptuous Grand Theater of Bordeaux had an exceptional evening, sponsored by James Zhou, owner of Château Renon, freshly restored at great expense. This "king of packaging", more used, during these European stops, to visit in Austria the headquarters of Red Bull, which he packs energy drinks, offered all Bordeaux a performance of the Russian virtuoso violinist Maxim Vengerov. Unthinkable two years ago.

Faced with declining domestic demand, it is clearly towards foreign markets, and Asian in particular, that turn Bordeaux producers. After opening the doors of multi-centennial properties to these rich people, and turning into simple consultants, in order to make the most of the taste and marketing of bottles that have become an extreme sign of wealth in the Far East, as well as a Cuban cigar or an Italian car. Michel Rolland, the star consulting oenologists, made a brief stop in his laboratory at the end of a rainy September. The man who advises seven Chinese owners, including Cofco, the world's largest food group, appreciates these new business partners: "The Chinese are not here only for the show, they are primarily traders. Quite omnipresent, sprawling, and with extraordinary punch. Their success is indisputable. In spite of distrust, the economic power allows this intrusion to be accepted. Michel Rolland is easily provocative: "In Bordeaux, we still have 6 million hectoliters to sell each year. We would like a vacuum cleaner that would pump to the Chinese market. Nobody would be against it.
It is no coincidence that, at the last edition of Vinexpo Bordeaux, the world's leading trade show, held in June 2017, a lucrative contract was signed with the online trading giant Alibaba, to sell a maximum of bottles on this platform to 450 million customers. Even less surprising knowing that the emblematic CEO of the brand, Jack Ma (39 billion personal fortune according to Forbes) has also three chateau's in the region since 2016. Like Mr Lu, he masters the entire chain, from producer to consumer. Historically very open to foreign capital (American, British and Belgian in particular), the Bordeaux vineyard finds in these partners who pay cash a way to settle the succession of family properties that struggle to be passed on to future generations. In the case of the Bel Air chateau in Cheng-Chang Lu, the former owner, Patrick David - who has been in charge for 26 years - was tempted by the offer, without negotiating the price, since none of his three girls did not want to take over the business. The astute Chinese immediately hired the one he had just dispossessed of his home for a two-year contract, to facilitate the transition: it is now with a flock jacket with the logo of Golden Field that the neo-retired Bordelais oversees the first harvest destined, for the most part, to Asian supermarkets.

p_00082358.jpg

If the Chinese have not yet taken the most prestigious grands crus classés, it's only a matter of time, according to industry observers. And the suitors hurry to the door. No less than 200 potential buyers are in the address book of Li Lijuan's smartphone, aka "Lily", a key figure in luxury transactions in the region. Maxwell-Baynes Vineyards model agent, this energetic young woman, former star of "The Voice" in China, does not hesitate to push the ditty with her jazz band during the inaugurations, and moves heaven and earth to meet the expectations of its more demanding customers. "Here the owner did not want to sell to a Chinese, but the money has its power ... My customers of course buy the art of living in France, but impossible for them to produce the wrong wine, and that it is "They do not want to lose face," she explains, as she walks around the Chateau Milord, a charming property transformed by the new owner, Hong Kong businessman Edwin Cheung. For four years, millions of euros of renovation. Heated pool, karaoke lounge, and even a six-hole golf course in preparation. This businessman, who owns a cellar of 15,000 bottles of fine wines, has never settled in the chateau, located in Grézillac (between-two-seas). Everything from accounting to the size of the vines is outsourced to a local agency. And seasonal workers who do not hunt outside to pick up bunches will not find a single bottle at local wine shops. All production will be shipped in containers for China, without exception.
A drop of water in a giant market, the first export for Bordeaux wines, estimated at 628 million euros per year by the CIVB (the interprofessional council of Bordeaux wines), an increase in volume of more than 15% per year ... A market for increasingly demanding consumers, whose palates are exercised. Formerly reserved for gifts between high dignitaries of the Communist Party, the best vintages of red (the lucky color) are now prized by the upper middle class, and Bordeaux in particular (by far the most famous "brand") buy in a few clicks on dedicated applications. In the streets of old Bordeaux as in those of Saint-Emilion, the Chinese tourists came to visit chateau's and oenotheques as on pilgrimage, are now legions. The Grand Hotel de Bordeaux, the city's only 5-star luxury hotel, is not enough to welcome all its visitors to well-stocked portfolios. For some amateurs, the ultimate experience lies in producing their own nectar. This is the case of Hugo Tian, Francophile businessman who looks like a gentleman farmer. Emu in front of the bluish grains of the first harvest of his chateau Fauchey, acquired with friends last summer, he does not lose sight of the peculiarities of Chinese consumers

p_00082438 (1).jpg
p_00082490.jpg

The training, whether express or high level, the adventurers of Chinese wine also come to the source. Directly in Bordeaux. At CAFA, a private school located on the quays of the city center, more than three-quarters of students in international sommellerie are Chinese. At the Institut Supérieur de la Vigne et du Vin, a unique public training center of its kind, PhD students return home with a high level of cultural and technical background. Ready to apply ancestral recipes, boosted by biotechnologies. "Currently, we do not need Chinese wine yet: Bordeaux is all that counts for consumers of good red wine. But in 20 years, maybe 10, I think we will be competitive and the world geography of wine will be upset, "says Alex Lee, founder and CEO of Wajiu, one of the first Chinese importers in the sector. Beyond the sometimes coarse copy-pasting of chateau's built around Beijing, China is indeed the country that plants the most vineyards in the world, and has just overtaken France, with 847,000 hectares of total area, second in the world behind Spain, according to the latest score of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV). From the mountains of Yunnan to the Gobi desert, the best grape varieties from the Bordeaux region are tested. Far from the valleys of the Entre-Deux-Mers and the paved streets of Saint-Emilion, a new wine revolution is already beginning.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

IAM_00083258.jpg

Wild Fire, Wild Suburbs, Wild Energy


© Alan McFetridge

Wild Fire, Wild Suburbs, Wild Energy


© Alan McFetridge

Our failure to address the most awesome challenge of human history, with the possible exception of nuclear weapons, is indeed a true derangement. These are the two existential challenges that overwhelm anything else, completely overshadow all other discussions.
— Noam Chomsky

100 Townsend Dr, Anzac, AB T0P 1J0, Canada. Feburary 2017.

Black Spruce, Highway 63, near Fort McMurray, Alberta, 2016

20 October 2016. It was the end of the road all right. My journey north into the subarctic boreal forest was over upon reaching the confluence of the Clearwater and Athabasca rivers. The air at dawn was below freezing and misty, which became a brilliant fog as the rising sun revealed widespread alteration to the landscape. The evacuation must have been intense and chaotic.

I was on a division line of difference, near where a vast 588,000-hectare wildfire nicknamed ‘The Beast’ had begun six months earlier and became the most costly natural disaster in the history of Canada. The wildfre’s aftermath surrounded me, showing newly made gaps where houses and even entire suburbs had been, with blackened tree trunks standing as far as I could see, right out to the distant horizon. Habitats of pine, birch, aspen and spruce were broken – charred and scattered like bones in an open grave.

Renewal had started – the missing suburbs of the Fort McMurray neighbourhoods of Waterways, Abasand and Beacon Hill had been cleaned up and covered over to start afresh. Emerging whips of aspen and red dogwood were already a metre high, and mosses, shrubs and grasses were rising from the nutrient-rich ash. There was stillness here – shock from the trauma and recovery which evoked a sense of melancholy. I was yet to witness the horror. 

Syncrude Oil Refinery,  Mildred Lake, Alberta, Canada, 2017

Callen Drive, over looking Parsons Creek subdivison, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, 2017. 

March 2017, at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The linguist Noam Chomsky – referring to Indian author Amitav Ghosh’s acclaimed 2016 book The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable – states: ‘Our failure to address the most awesome challenge of human history, with the possible exception of nuclear weapons, is indeed a true derangement. These are the two existential challenges that overwhelm anything else, completely overshadow all other discussions.’  

This project exhibits a journey into Alberta’s vast boreal forest. It begins quietly at the outskirts of Edmonton and ultimately shows the most extreme nature of unconscious human behaviour towards the richness of the earth’s landscape – a result of civilisation’s blind quest for energy from dangerous fossil fuels; an example of ongoing human plundering as if there are no consequences. 

The settlement of Fort McMurray proliferated after 1970 with the arrival of industrial-scale surface mining. It is situated 42 kilometres south of the Syncrude oil refinery, the scourge of the earth in Alberta’s tar sand (or oil sand) operations, where non-conventional extraction of bitumen has created the world’s largest mine, by area, potentially covering 149,000 square kilometres, equivalent in size to Greece. Here, hazardous fossil fuels from the earth’s most extensive biome, the boreal forest, are exploited to supply worldwide energy demand – symptomatic of a human civilisation reliant on consumption and processing of fossil fuel for profit and growth. In 2015, government-run Environment Canada issued data showing that seven refineries within a 30-kilometre radius extracted bitumen from surface mining or deeper by the new steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) technology, and released a total of 34 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere that year. Production in 2016 distributed 2.4 million barrels of oil daily via 30-inch pipelines. These channels are now being upgraded and include the planned Keystone XL pipeline.   

Hospital St, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, 2016

Grayling Terrace, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, 2016

Projections published in 2017 by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) state that by 2030, production will have increased to 3.67 million barrels per day for the tar sand region and 5.4 million barrels per day for western Canadian crude oil. For every barrel of oil that comes from surface mining, up to four barrels of fresh water become contaminated and then deposited in unsealed tailings ponds. The scale of engineering and mining has altered the landscape beyond comprehension and made Canada third in global oil supply.

The importance, scale and diversity of the boreal forest are equally impressive. Worldwide, it accounts for 33 per cent of the earth’s forested area. It is the world’s largest land biome – and a gigantic green lung that cleans our atmosphere.

Fire is a primary process for the boreal forest, which migrated north during the Wisconsin Glacial Episode and over the following 10,000-year period of relative climatic stability has used fire to cleanse and renew. Fire accounts for the diverse patchwork mosaic of trees and plant species here. In the current accelerating change in climate there is significant concern about the how quickly the forest can adapt and how fire will interact under anthropogenic conditions. From an earth science perspective, the boreal forest is now one of 18 subsystems within the earth system which sit on a tipping point. Its stability is at risk of collapsing, becoming out of control. Recent protracted drier, hotter summers are creating conditions that influence wildfre frequency and severity; and permafrost is melting. These are two significant factors that will tip over the boreal with substantial consequences for life, possibly somewhere else on the planet too. Both effects are a result of global CO2 emissions, generated by widespread use of fossil fuels across human networks. 

Lumber Yard, HWY-63, Chard, Alberta, Canada. February 2017

Professor of wildland fre Mike Flannigan has termed this division between wildland and industry as an ‘ecological frontier’, whereby our 300,000-year-old human civilisation, the pinnacle of our technology and dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure are set firmly against an irritated 4.5 billion-year-old earth system. 

The evidence that our climate is changing owing to human activity is overwhelming. Attitudes towards climate change vary widely, with a small minority of people denying this evidence. Much more are ambivalent about the issue. Research shows that views about climate change, our underlying values and our world views are all linked. Directly confronting people’s beliefs tends actually to reinforce them, but there are other, less direct ways to approach the issue. This project aims to present the cause and effect of global consumption – how the earth system is affected when unrealistic quantities of CO2 and GHGs (greenhouse gasses) are released into the atmosphere and overload the capability of subsystems such as the boreal to cleanse and recycle efficiently. It highlights the urgency to address homocentric attitudes so that world cities of the future function in harmony with their surroundings – in much the same way that a coral reef does with the life it supports. 

I acknowledge that, framed within the context of global energy, Alberta’s fossil fuel resources and supply of crude oil are part of a complex global exchange mechanism that supplies infrastructure and products to the major and minor metropolitan areas of the globe. The crude is subsequently consumed, releasing further GHG, or processed into a multitude of manifestations including plastic, roads and paint. I received abundant welcomes and experienced open receptions throughout Canada, and this project is no judgement on the good people that I met along the way or those who live in Fort McMurray and seek a better life for themselves and their families.  

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

The full project contains 160 colour photographs, 3000-word essay, journal entry, 20-page dossier, contaminated human hair samples and sound recordings.

Photographs were taken between 15 October and 15 November 2016; and between 14 and 28 February 2017. 

Acknowledgements

Professor Mike Flannigan, professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta
Lynn Johnston, forest fire research specialist, Natural Resources Canada
Selina Ozanne, research assistant
Professor Will Steffen, earth system scientist and emeritus professor at the Australian National University
Professor Jan Zalasiewicz, stratigrapher and convenor of the Working Group on the Anthropocene
The Royal Photographic Society and The Photographic Angle Environmental Awareness Bursary

IAM_00085737.jpg

Maximum Effect


© Alice Mann

Maximum Effect


© Alice Mann

La Sape D’Europe

Following the period of African Independence from colonial rule, there are numerous contemporary challenges facing African citizens, compelling many people to migrate towards the more prosperous regions outside of the continent. In Congolese society, there is great significance attached to being able to create a new life within the context of Europe and the UK.  

Writer Didier Gondola explains how in Congolese culture, the word ‘mokili’, Lingala for the ‘world’ has become synonymous with Europe, and the expression milikiste describes the young Congolese who have made it to Europe. 

AM-La-Sape D'Europe_012.JPG

Over the past year, I have been working on a personal project with a group of Congolese men based in London and Paris.  Using designer clothing and fashion as a means of self-expression and empowerment, they identify as a European chapter of the La Sape movement (a dynamic sub-culture emanating from Brazzaville, literally translated as the ‘Society of Ambiance makers and Elegant people’). The individuals in these portraits represent a fragment of the broader Congolese diaspora, spread across Europe and the UK. Working in close exchange with these men, I hope to portray their efforts to confidently affirm their identity specifically within the context of British and European spaces. 

For subscribers of the La Sape ideology, clothing provides a vehicle with which to challenge limitations, and celebrate difference. Fashion transcends something purely aesthetic; style underpins a lifestyle and provides a vehicle for personal creativity.  They see fashion as a medium that allows for distinctiveness, and power over how people may perceive them. Self-made men, they have created their own language through the image they present, Utilising new and vintage designer pieces, from instantly recognisable luxury European brands. Significantly it is about how they see themselves, not how others see them. 

AM-La-Sape D'Europe_002.JPG
AM-La-Sape D'Europe_016.JPG

Consequently, my approach to creating these images has been very collaborative; each man I have worked with has been involved in the direction of his shoot, and has styled himself in his own clothes, the way he sees fit. There was a sense of individual assertiveness and agency that I wanted to communicate with these portraits, and through each man being so implicit in the direction of his shoot, I hope to emphasise the concept of self-representation. 

I also want each individual to feel he truly owns his set of images, and have worked with the notion of creating images that are reflective of the way he wants to present himself.  Working together, the shared goal in producing these images has been to create photographs which will have a life both inside and outside the art world, which my collaborators have access to, to display in any way of their choosing. The resultant images have been used for self-promotion via various social media networks and over the past year, I have seen them reposted various times, in online collages and in music videos.  Subsequent adaptations made to the images (digital filters and frames) are a clear suggestion of their ownership. 

My intent with this work is to challenge stereotypes of the way that African citizens are represented and understood, specifically in a Western context.  Referencing ‘street casting’ and fashion editorials, my intent is to make images which are both serious and playful to question notions of representation in a world where appearance is all-important. I hope this series communicates creativity, dignity and pride, giving viewers some insight into the lives of Africans in European spaces. 

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive