Olivia Arthur (UK): The Middle Distance
Inge Morath Award Winner, 2007
Five countries lie across the border between Europe and Asia: Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia. The project focuses particularly on young women, looking at a stage in life when they have to make decisions between education, work and family. I feel that the opportunities and restrictions on young women at this stage is a huge indicator of the society they live in.
My interest in this subject began while I was working as a freelance photographer in India. Originally I hadn’t wanted to work on stories about women, but as I travelled the country on other assignments, I continually found myself coming into contact with women trodden down by the society around them.
I found myself increasingly wanting to cover these issues. But the western audience that sees my work views India as a far away backward place and isn’t surprised to see images of women struggling for their rights. Similarly, I grew to feel that there was a misunderstanding in the places that I worked of what women represented in my country.
I had the idea to look for a meeting point, a crossover between this culture and the one that I had grown up with. I decided to go to the border between Europe and Asia and see if it could offer some answers to this cultural divide between East and West. … read more