This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – part one of the Visa pour l’image feature and in Melbourne Punkulture opens at Sun Studios.
Visa pour l’image – part one
The 30th edition of the world’s preeminent photojournalism festival opens in the southern French town of Perpignan on 1st September for two weeks. For those who have not attended, Visa is amazing, overwhelming, fantastic!
There are so many incredible works to view, in breathtaking venues such as the majestic Couvent des Minimes. And there are many of the world’s most renowned photojournalists and photo editors in attendance for the professional week.
It’s a long haul from Australia, but I have been fortunate to attend twice in recent years. Each time the experience has been both professionally and personally enriching.
This week part one of Photojournalism Now’s feature on Visa, with a focus on the female photographers who are featured in the main exhibition program – Paula Bronstein, Andrea Bruce, Alice Martins. Catalina Martin-Chico and Véronique de Viguerie.
Paula Bronstein – Stateless, Stranded and Unwanted: The Rohingya Crisis
Paula says, “since 2012 I have witnessed the discrimination and persecution of the Rohingya community, documenting their situation in Myanmar, and last year also in Bangladesh…The Burmese government has arrested journalists trying to uncover the truth. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, still refuses to address these atrocities, while human rights organizations around the world say she cannot avoid responsibility, and describe the violence as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing, speaking of crimes against humanity, and even genocide.”
Andrea Bruce – A Place to Go: Open Defecation and Sanitation
Having a toilet is something most living in the west take for granted. As Andrea Bruce points out, “nearly 950 million people still routinely practice open defecation, and 569 million of them live in India; and the evidence can readily be found when walking along train tracks or rural roads.
Disease caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 1.4 million children a year, more than measles, malaria, and AIDS combined…The health toll in India is staggering: every year, diarrheal diseases kill more than 300,000 children, and millions of people live with chronic intestinal disease, limiting the ability to absorb nutrients and medication.
In Haiti, the death toll from the combination of natural disasters, open defecation and cholera has been very high. After the 2010 earthquake and after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, feces contaminated rivers and took cholera to areas difficult for health care workers to reach…More than half the population of Haiti does not have a private, hygienic place to defecate.”
Catalina Martin-Chico – Colombia: (RE) Birth
In Colombia the FARC guerilla war raged for 53 years. Many members of the FARC Revolutionary Armed Forces were women. Throughout the war “there was a ban on child-bearing, and any pregnancy (was) terminated”. If babies were born they were “abandoned at birth. Since the signing of the peace agreement, hundreds of these young women have now chosen to bring life into the world. For Colombia, this is “the jungle baby boom” and a “rebirth”.
Alice Martins – Welcome to Free Raqqa
Alice Martins writes, “In the spring of 2013, the city of Raqqa was the first provincial capital in Syria which the government had lost to rebel forces since the beginning of the war in 2011…The mood was celebratory, and the rare foreign journalists arriving there were greeted by locals with a cheerful “Welcome to Free Raqqa”…But the joy did not last long as ISIS, slowly but surely, began to assert control over the city…In mid-2017, Iraqi security forces finally recaptured the city after a brutal US- led military operation that destroyed much of the city and killed thousands of civilians. A year on, a broken and corrupt justice system has failed to gain the trust of the people who are divided by fear and revenge attacks. Today many still see the same circumstances that let ISIS move into Iraq in the first place.”
Véronique de Viguerie – Yemen, the Hidden War
Jérôme Huffer, the picture editor of Paris Match who commissioned this story says, “It took Véronique de Viguerie one year to get into Yemen, a country out of bounds to journalists, and where Saudi- driven anger can be heard in the skies, thundering down relentlessly on the millions of civilians trapped below…A hidden war, and an impossible report, but Véronique and her colleague and author, Manon Quérouil-Bruneel, were determined to prove that wrong.
It was obviously a high risk story, but we knew how tenacious they were, and that could indeed be their downfall. Véronique was only worried about missing out on a photo, while we saw plenty of other things to worry about. But she was determined, and would not be put off track; she wanted to see it through to the end, and to (show) the human element behind the complex geopolitical issues, breaking through boundaries, walls and barricades, to take photographs in the world’s blind spot.
When the two journalists were in the field in Yemen, we, at Paris Match, were in constant contact, anxious about their safety. All we wanted was to see them back home, with a few shots that no one else could get. And they did come back, although later than expected, and with more than 500 photos and eight hours of video recordings. The outstanding eye-witness report saw the forgotten war become one of the main stories of the year.”
1 – 16 September, Perpignan, France.
Adrian Boot – Punkulture: Images from a musical revolution
Often after viewing exhibitions at Visa I would walk outside to feel the sun on my face and breathe deeply. These are important stories to tell and to see, but they are undeniably intense and sometimes a short reprieve can help reflection and perspective. Today that reprieve is in the form of these fabulous images by UK photographer Adrian Boot, Punkulture, which opens tonight at Sun Studios.
This collection resonates also because of my own background as a musical journalist and author of Rock Chicks, which features a chapter on Debbie Harry (above).
Adrian a former staff photographer at Melody Maker magazine, shot the punk scene in its heyday in the 70s in London. This collection of 62 images is just one facet of a diverse career. He has also worked as the official photographer on various events such as Live Aid, on Nelson Mandela – Freedom at 70 and Roger Water’s The Wall in Berlin and for numerous record labels. These photographs are accompanied the words of Chris Salewicz, former writer for NME, co-founder of MTV Europe and the author of multiple books including McCartney: The Definitive Biography.
Until 14 September
Sun Studios, 95 Buckhurst Street, South Melbourne