Category Archives: IM Mag 2011/2012

Sara Bissen: At the Limits

Sara Bissen (US): At the Limits

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What occurred daily in Guatemala did not appear in any newspaper, even in local print.  It is deemed too insignificant for a world focused on billion dollar transactions and the fluctuating GDP of a country.  In Guatemala, the collective efforts of indigenous Maya women to stand on their own economic feet is not in today’s headlines, yet it proves the slow march towards empowerment is undeniable.

Within the parameters of the world’s current state of affairs, a challenge to the status quo is imperative for the success of women.  On the periphery, yet at the limits, their potential to breakdown barriers is contingent on an ability to articulate, internalize and then believe that aspirations for opportunity can be realized.  These women do exactly what society suggests they cannot do.  Continue reading Sara Bissen: At the Limits

Anastasia Taylor-Lind: Women of the Cossack Resurgence

Anastasia Taylor-Lind (UK): Women of the Cossack Resurgence

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Documenting the Cossack resurrection in Caucasus Russia and Crimean Ukraine.

Throughout the steppes and valleys of autonomous Crimea and Caucasus Southern Russia the Cossack people are relearning their warrior traditions and cultural heritage, which were aggressively suppressed by the communists during their 74 years in power. The Cossack revival began in 1991 with the collapse of the USSR, as small groups of men and women began to resurrect their historic role as defenders of Russia’s Southern borders and the Orthodox Church. Today the movement has gained considerable numbers, particularly in Russia with backing from the government, as more and more Cossacks seek to reclaim their identity along with the respect it earned them in society. Continue reading Anastasia Taylor-Lind: Women of the Cossack Resurgence

Elsie Haddad: Entr’actes

Elsie Haddad (Lebanon): Entr’actes

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A couple of years back, a huge wave of construction plans emerged in Beirut, and it’s happening intensely and at a very high pace, sometimes the new buildings are built on the ruins of old ones and sometimes they’re built on the few empty spaces left in the city. This wave of constructions and modernism is bringing with it malls and lofts and modern apartments, wiping a certain urban lifestyle that was integral in the social structure of Beirut and its identity, leaving many questions on the shape of things to come, human contact and humans themselves.

In this happening, my interest drifted towards the old shops in Beirut… shops dating from the pre-war era (1975-1990), their owners, and their stories. These shops were essentials in every neighborhood, and their owners’ popular personas made them a place for diverse social encounters. They knew each of their customers by name and they treated them accordingly. They represent a part of a now gone way of life and social dynamics. With this shift to a more industrialized city, these old and iconic small shops, like their owners are becoming a shadow or merely a ghost of what they used to be, waiting for there closure or demolition. Continue reading Elsie Haddad: Entr’actes

Elizabeth Moreno: Close to Earth

Elizabeth Moreno (Mexico): Close to Earth

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This project documents a slice of the culture and life of the Baja California peninsula rancheros (in Mexico), focusing on the particular fusion between past and present that they experience today—a fragile equilibrium that is about to be broken by the forces of globalization.

The rancheros and their families live mainly of the land, sometimes hours away from the closest town or paved road. Descendants of Spanish settlers who were brought to the peninsula by the Jesuits in the late 1700s and the native inhabitants of the peninsula, these families have maintained their unique heritage and customs, which have been shaped by adapting to life in a rarely abundant and often inhospitable land, over centuries. Continue reading Elizabeth Moreno: Close to Earth

Francesca Cao: The Lion of Central Asia

Francesca Cao (Italy): The Lion of Central Asia

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Kazakhstan is the ninth country in the world for extension. Its history begins with the nomads in the steppe until the Russian invasion in 1890, which persists until the fall of the Soviet Union and the election of president Nazarbayev in 1991, who declares the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The first oil discovery is dated 1979, when Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union, but considered a giant desert for nuclear garbage. In the past twenty-eight years, everything changed for Kazakh people. The fall of the Soviet Union in fact had many hard consequences on the population, result of the country’s total dependence. From 1991 the main export becomes oil and in 2003 they are valuated more than 7 billion dollars, representing 65% of the total. Continue reading Francesca Cao: The Lion of Central Asia

Chloe Dewe Mathews: Caspian

Chloe Dewe Mathews (UK): Caspian

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Languishing quietly between two great continents, the Caspian is the world’s largest inland sea. In 2010 I travelled to its edge, to the point where Asia dissolves into Europe. For centuries, surrounding powers have laid claim to the region; first the Ottomans, the Persians, the Mongols and most recently Soviet Russia. These Empires have ebbed and flowed, each one leaving its mark on this enigmatic landscape.

In the 10th Century, oil was discovered on the Caspian coast near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and has been exploited ever since. The boom of the late 90’s brought the current wave of prosperity to the area. However, Caspian crude oil is not only used conventionally as fuel: since long before mechanized extraction it has provided a curious health treatment. Continue reading Chloe Dewe Mathews: Caspian

Anne Golaz: Hunting Games

Anne Golaz (Finland): Hunting Games

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My approach to the “hunting games” began with a strong aesthetic fascination. Initially, I am not coming from the world of hunting and I am not part of the initiated people. But I wondered what could really signify this practice nowadays and further than the stereotypes? How to represent hunting in a modern society, where it is a very deeply contradicted subject? How to stage this universe without creating an expected and sterile polemic? The ambiguous admiration, with its repulsive part, that I felt for hunting was the main motor of my work. I choose to react as free as possible, mixing a documentary approach with suggested and sometimes ironical pictures. But especially creating some staged and theatrical photographs, with a dramatic and imposing atmosphere. Continue reading Anne Golaz: Hunting Games

Katie Orlinsky: Innocence Assassinated

Katie Orlinsky (USA): Innocence Assassinated: Living in Mexico’s Drug War

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In 2006, newly elected Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels. His intension was to take a stand against the violence, corruption and drug trafficking that had been increasing since 2000. Seven decades of one-party rule in Mexico ended and shifted the balance of power amongst drug cartels and corrupt officials. But Calderon’s war on drug cartels has only made the situation worse. Mexico’s drug war is more than an armed conflict. It is a humanitarian crisis that has changed the lives of countless innocent people. The total drug war death toll has now reached over 30,000 people, and behind every murdered victim there is a family left to live with the consequences. Continue reading Katie Orlinsky: Innocence Assassinated

Gauri Gill: Balika Mela, Lunkaransar, 2003/2010

Gauri Gill (India): Balika Mela, Lunkaransar, 2003/2010

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I have photographed in rural Rajasthan for twelve years now, in villages, homes and families that treated me as their own. Although I chose to work independently, over the years I developed a relationship with various NGOs (non governmental organisations), including Urmul Setu Sansthan, in Lunkaransar. They have a bare bones campus in what used to be a one-camel town, albeit one with a busy National Highway running through it: simple, white blocks laid out in sandy soil, one of them a guest house that I knew I could stay in whenever I passed through, and where I was asked to pay whatever I could afford at the particular time. The stark setting placed into relief the various individuals inhabiting the campus, drawn there either by a greater motivation or personal circumstance. We were all fugitives from the world at large, for varying lengths of time, along with our dreams and accompanying disenchantments; ideas, plans and schemes were constantly afoot. The overarching utopian idea at Urmul remained Gram Sewa, or ‘in the service of the village’. Continue reading Gauri Gill: Balika Mela, Lunkaransar, 2003/2010

Zhe Chen: Bees

Zhe Chen (China): Bees
Inge Morath Award Recipient, 2011

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They left their lives in the very wounds they had created for themselves.
– Virgil (Roman poet, 70BC – 19BC)

To jeopardize existence for existence itself: ‘Bees’ records a marginalized group of people in China, who, faced with chaos, violence, alienation and irredeemable loss in life, feel propelled to leave physical traces and markings on their bodies, in order to preserve and corroborate a pure and sensitive mind from within.

In 2010, having ‘The Bearable’ (a photo series documenting my own self-inflictions over the past 4 years) as my passport, I had the opportunity to develop a close relationship with some of these obstinate souls – the bees. During the process of exchanging secrets with them, I crossed paths with certain possibilities that were formerly untouched but towards which I had struggled greatly in my personal life. I’m struck by the unyielding actions and reactions that the bees carry on with while encountering sudden and acute emotional fluxes, and moved by the recurrent effort they make to recover themselves afterwards. No matter how different our lives seem to be, we undoubtedly share common psychological experiences. Continue reading Zhe Chen: Bees