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Posts by: Elizabeth Sulis Gear

Paul Nicklen Captures the Beauty and Fragility of the Polar Regions

To counter contemporary political discourses denying climate change, we need only turn our heads to the polar regions to understand the urgency of protecting these fragile yet beautiful ecosystems. Canadian-born Paul Nicklen is a photographer, marine biologist and conservationist. He knows that the Arctic region is warming up twice as fast as anywhere on the planet, and has witnessed and documented the staggering effects of this rise in temperature firsthand. Glaciers are receding, wildlife populations are struggling to adapt to their new environment, urban areas are threatened by rising sea levels—an oil spill could prove catastrophic, both for the animal and human inhabitants of these vulnerable regions. In his book Polar Obsession and the corresponding exhibition organized by National Geographic at the David Bower Centre, the artist hopes to dispel myths and encourage others to enjoy, treasure and help protect these lands and creatures.

The Forgotten History Of The Koreans Of Mexico And Cuba

To many it might come as a surprise to learn that there are Korean-Mexicans and Korean-Cubans, though with this revelation it becomes imperative to come to terms with the largely forgotten tragedy which befell their ancestors. In 1905, 1,033 Koreans boarded the SS Ilford to Mexico. It was imagined and portrayed as a journey towards prosperity in the new world—a departure from what was then an impoverished country, and in the same year was already falling into the clutches of Imperial Japan. The reality that awaited these migrants was a life of indentured servitude in the Henequen plantations of Mexico, harvesting an agave that was then known as “the green gold” of Mexico. Many fled to Cuba with dreams of getting a foothold in the then lucrative sugar cane industry, though by the time they arrived the industry had already plummeted. Their homeland already a Japanese colony, they were again destined to hard labour in Cuban henequen plantations.  Argentinian-American-Korean photographer Michael Vince Kim pursued this story as a natural progression from his previous work focusing on language, identity and migration, entitling the series Aenikkaeng, (Korean for ‘Henequen’).

Rare Photographs Of The Dancing Devils Of Liberia

“It is said that if you photograph the Bush Devils (of Liberia), the pictures won’t come out” says British photographer Conor Beary, “whether or not there is any truth to that I don’t know, but I’m not to keen on the initiation process so thought I’d skip that and document the Dancing Devils”.

Ghostly Relics from the Soviet past lost in the snow

Headquarters of Communist Party, Bulgaria, Yugoiztochen region, 2015

Looking at Moscow-based Danila Tkachenko’s photographs that constitute Restricted Areas is a chilling experience. Technological feats that were once regarded as innovative and futuristic during the Soviet rule lie eerily forsaken surrounded by the snow that disorientates; utopian ideas and monuments denoting imperial ambition are cast aside as their creators realize their inherent flaws. The artist elaborates: “I tried to create a metaphor of the post-technological apocalypse and show the other side of the technological progress which often leads to the failure and brings about destruction”.

The Secret World of the Street Cats of Kazakhstan

‘I have always been around cats” writes Kazakh photographer Evgeniya Gor. She admires cats for their natural grace and independence and is forever observing, rescuing and looking out for strays when not at home with the two feline friends of her own—Masha who she rescued from the streets 17 years ago, and her kitten Chaus, who is now 9 years old. Most of the cats portrayed in her images have no home and must endure Astana’s harsh winters, where the average temperature is 14.2 °C (6.4 °F).

Photographer Captures Feeling of Homesickness in China

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Solastalgia, as opposed to nostalgia, is loosely defined as the distress felt by an individual when their home environment is under assault, or has changed beyond recognition and does not recall their memories. In short, it is the homesickness one experience when one is still “at home”. “When I came across this word I was so curious” says photographer Yangkun Shi, who employed the term as the title of his final project while studying at the London College of Communication (LCC). “There is no Chinese translation, and yet it is what I experience every time I return from studying abroad or in another province. Every time I return I realise my past memories and the currently realities don’t match. China is undergoing a very fast-paced period of development and it’s hard to keep up”.

A glimpse into the little-known world of ski in Iran

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Scattered skiers and a dog are photographed at the Tochal resort in the Alborz Mountains north of Tehran. Iran. December 29, 2014

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Clients and a worker are photographed in the restaurant of a chalet in Tochal, Alborz Mountains, North of Tehran. December 29, 2014

The clichéd image of the Middle East brings to mind an arid desert and dry heat. It does not include snowy mountains, but they do exist in this region, and skiing is a common pastime in Lebanon, Turkey, Israel and Iran. Milanese photographer Gaia Squarci—who has skied from a young age in the European Alps—headed to ski locations just North of Iran’s capital with writer Laurence Cornet, who introduced her to the scene. On the slopes, in the hotels, restaurants and surrounding facilities, the artist recognised a microcosm that offers the viewer a glimpse into Iranian society—“ski became for us a way to get a little closer to understanding some of its dynamics” she writes. Her resulting series Ski in Iran offers the viewer a window onto this microcosm.

Life in the shadow of a nuclear power plant in France

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“In Italy, nuclear energy arouses fear; nobody wants a nuclear centre as a neighbour” writes Venetian photographer Andrea Pugiotto, discussing his series Vie chez la central, which translates as ‘Life in the (nuclear) centre’. This is not the case in neighbouring France, where the Bugey Nuclear Power Plant in the Saint-Vulbas commune attracts many who desire free energy, spacious, affordable housing and large gardens. The artist spoke with a local resident, who emphasised the convenience of this unconventional paradise: “we enjoy many privileges that the rest of the population can only dream of, and the risk is the same. Life is better, here”.

Photos Reflect on Migration in Greece

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Though originally from London, Etienne Audrey Bruce feels a familial relationship to Greece, the country where her parents first met and currently reside; the place where her two brothers were born. This connection is in part what drew the photographer to produce her latest series Xenitia there. Through word and text the artist sought to put forth a more “polyphonic view of migration” to counter those we usually encounter in mainstream media.

Photographer seeks answers in a 300km journey from Chengdu to the sea

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“This water confuses me.
When I’m by the river I find myself wondering:

Who am I?
Where am I?
What am I?”

Another river by Roni Horn

Photographer Wei Wu’s final project at the London College of Communication (LCC) and resulting book is the result of a solitary walk from the source of the Funan river in her hometown Chengdu in the Sichuan province of China to its mouth. And yet, there is more to this series than the arduous 300km journey that led to its creation. Though originally pursued as a dedication to her grandparents and as a nostalgic revisiting of her past, the artist learned more about her present self than she had initially envisioned, walking through familiar and foreign terrain with the time to reflect. Meeting Myself Coming Back is about one individual’s quest for answers, our place in the world and our relationship with others. Despite its introspective nature, the imagery and evolution of thought found within the photo book’s pages touch upon an essence with which we can all likely resonate.

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