ColumnPointing his gaze where others might look away.
Gideon Mendel‘s mix of photojournalism and art creates projects ranging from documenting the lives of AIDS orphans in Mozambique, to profiling eight African women who each address the eight world leaders attending the G8 summit about key issues of poverty, health and development as they affect their lives. He looks at the issue of access to life saving antiretroviral medication for people living with HIV in South Africa, and has made a series of short films with nine young people in Kenya exploring their experience of living with HIV.
Now through his ongoing series, Drowning World, he takes portraits of flood victims contextualized within their environmental devastation. In 2007, Mendel began documenting scenes of these catastrophes from The UK, India, Haiti, Pakistan, Australia and Thailand.
He says of his riveting work:
The heart of the project is a series of portraits of flood victims at their homes within the landscape of their own personal calamity. Making these images often involved returning with them through waist high floodwaters so they could show their circumstances to the world.
My intention is to depict them as individuals, not as nameless statistics. Coming from disparate parts of the world, their faces show us their linked vulnerability despite the vast differences in their lives and circumstances.
On my more recent trips I also recorded video footage to make these two video pieces to accompany the still images.
They address the camera, giving testament to the surrounding environmental destruction… Their unsettling gaze challenges the viewer, questioning our communal culpability for their plight and illustrating the impact of climate change on individual lives.
Therein lies his raisons d’être, and what compels us to not look away.
Inspired by a post on Huh.
Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her trends blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.