Category: VII Stories

Wind, Sand and Stars

by Linda Bournane Engelberth

I am a Norwegian/Algerian artist raised in Norway by my Norwegian mother, and without knowing my Algerian father and his family. I have always been curious about my other country of origin. As a teenager I finally made contact with my father and more recently, my wider family in Algeria. When my Berber grandmother turned 100, she wrote me a letter so that I wouldn’t forget about my father’s homeland. This project is an attempt to research my own identity as a western woman investigating this foreignness that makes up half my bloodline.

As a stranger, with a feeling of being on the outside, I have walked the streets of Algiers trying to connect. I have documented everything from the city to the life of my family. I have been interested in the smaller details: street signs in Arabic, a cactus growing through the fence and people in the streets. These photos are attempts to absorb the nuances of life in Algiers. They are my first steps into a culture that feels like it should be part of me, but which I do not yet know.

Algiers, Algeria. I lie awake in the night, the intense warmth keeps me away from much needed sleep. My nightgown sticks to my body, my breath is slow, I run a hand along the wall and its deep crevices, all that should be familiar is unknown. I try to imagine my grandmother running her hands against these walls, these details she knew so well, perhaps she made these markings herself, one day when she was young and in love and pushed the bed against the doorway so no one could enter. I am trying to live another woman’s life, smell the scents she smelled, imagine that the etchings in the wall represent my own life lived. But they are not. No matter how much I pretend that this is my life, this is my life, this is my life…it is not.

As I walk slowly out of the airport, I see them smiling at me, I smile back. We pretend to know each other; we pretend that this situation is a perfectly normal one. Lynda takes my luggage to her car, we don’t speak the same language. The car drives away slowly, eventually landing us right into the busy traffic. I open the window and try to take in the smells; such an unfamiliar scent, the scent of a land I know nothing of.

This is an ongoing project.

Linda Bournane Engelberth

Linda Bournane Engelberth is a Norwegian/Algerian artist based in Oslo and Berlin.

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Archive

Join Maciek Nabrdalik and Gary Knight for a 4-day photography workshop in San Francisco this June!

Inspired by the teaching of Harvard Professor and landscape historian John Stilgoe, this June 21- June 24, 2018 workshop is about the acute observation of ordinary things in one of America’s most beautiful cities: San Francisco. The workshop will encourage you to become aware in everyday places, to see in utterly new ways, to enrich your life and your photography unexpectedly through the appreciation of what is around you every day. We encourage you to work on any kind of photography that you want to, whether it be street photography, narrative, portraiture or urban landscape. The workshop will be held during San Francisco’s LGBT Pride Parade.

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Somalia has never been a forgiving place. A land of extreme temperatures and little rain, the country has faced cyclical droughts and periodic famines throughout the past century. But decades of civil war, coupled with the effects of climate change, have set the country on a path to environmental disaster. Home to a bloody Islamist insurgency that is arguably the world’s first climate war, Somalia is grappling with rapid desertification, increasingly erratic rainfall, and the destruction of coastal waters by foreign fishing fleets.

“With this weather pattern, Somalia or Somalis will not survive.
Maybe the land, a piece of desert called Somalia, will exist on the map of the world, but Somalis cannot survive.”

The People

This work tells the stories of people struggling to cope with a changing? environment: the camel herder who went to war with neighbors over pasture and water, the elder struggling to adapt as his community’s land erodes around them, the fishermen lured by piracy when they could no longer make a? ?living at sea.

The Land

As one of the places hardest hit on the planet by climate change, Somalia is the canary in the coalmine for the rest of us. In a generation parts of the country have gone from being semi-arid to desert, fueling conflict and pushing communities to the brink.

The Archive

In the 1970s and 80s an intrepid team of scientists – working with American funding and Soviet maps at the height of the Cold War – carried out the most comprehensive land survey of Somalia ever completed. Under the auspices of the National Range Agency in Mogadishu, at the time the most well-funded Somali government agency, they crisscrossed the country by Land Rover and bush plane photographing and studying the environment at more than a thousand sites.

In 2016 I returned to many of those sites and rephotographed them to understand how Somalia’s environment is being reshaped.

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The Film

This 15-minute vérité documentary , co-directed with Laura Heaton, brings to life the relationship between climate change and conflict through moving personal stories. Narrated by three Somali environmental experts, the film features five characters whose plights each shed light on a distinct aspect of their changing environment.

This project was supported by The GroundTruth Project.

Nichole Sobecki

Nichole Sobecki is an American photographer and filmmaker based in Nairobi, Kenya. She aims to create photographs and films that demand consideration for the lives of those represented – their joys, challenges, and ultimately their humanity.

About

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Films

It is one of the largest homeless encampments in the United States – hundreds of makeshift structures and 700 to 1,000 residents. Not far from Disneyland, it winds for two to three miles along the Santa Ana River Bed in Orange County, California, a sand-covered concrete flood control channel on one side and a changing urban landscape on the other – the parking lot of Angel Stadium, the Orange County Register newspaper building, a mobile home park, a fancy apartment complex, glass-covered office buildings. Occasionally a cyclist zooms by on the bike path that runs straight through the encampment, but mostly it’s residents – many of them on bikes (which neighborhood locals complain are stolen). Some structures stand alone; others are grouped together in compounds, with makeshift fences, for greater security. Dogs are everywhere, chained on guard duty, in bicycle baskets, or on leashes with their owners. Signs went up on January 16th – officially announcing that the city will clear the riverbed homeless encampment on January 22nd as part of a plan to close the area for an “environmental remediation project.” County officials say the area is unsafe for habitation, especially during the upcoming rainy season, but homeless advocates have called the plan illegal and inhumane.

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“Azerbaijan” by Ed Kashi

Azerbaijan

by Ed Kashi

In 2013, Ed Kashi visited several camps in Western Azerbaijan which housed some of the estimated one million Azerbaijani internally displaced persons (IDPs), who are the on-going victims of the unresolved Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. By capturing vignettes of their lives and interviewing people in the community about their histories and aspirations, he demonstrated how IDP populations were surviving in the face of adversity. This work was later included in a book and exhibition that toured London, Berlin, Brussels, and Paris.

In October of 2017, Ed returned to Azerbaijan on a more upbeat mission – to capture the work undertaken to rebuild Jojug Marjanli, the first Azerbaijani territory to be liberated from Armenian control in over a quarter of a century. Azerbaijan armed forces were successful in seizing back this territory and withstood a determined counterattack by the Armenian armed forces. Azerbaijan is still trying to temporarily house nearly ten percent of their population, who remain as IDPs, in an orderly and decent manner. The government and local communities constructed a new town of at least 50 homes with another 100 on the way, proving the commitment of the inspiring people there.

One man that he had met, 50-year-old Ogtay Haziyev, had only left his village of 25 years for a total of approximately 5 days prior to the invasion. Two young teachers who recently moved to Jojug Marjanli to raise their young families and teach at the primary school are inspiring examples of next generation pioneers for a new future.

Nagorno-Karabakh is universally recognized as being part of Azerbaijan. Not a single country – including Armenia – recognizes it as either an independent state or a part of Armenia . Beginning in 1988, Armenia started a war, which resulted in the occupation of Nagorno Karabakh and seven adjacent regions. A ceasefire was signed in 1994. Since then, negotiations for a permanent peace agreement have become “frozen” and unresolved. Four UN Security Council Resolutions demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Armenian troops remain unimplemented.

Armenians and Azerbaijanis have made up the Karabakh region for centuries. They lived in relative peace until the early 20th century when tensions resulted in conflicts between the two communities. Following WWI and Russia’s Bolshevik revolution, the new Soviet rulers (as part of their divide-and-rule policy) established the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous region (including only the Armenian populated villages) within the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan. Decades later, in the 1980s, intense Armenian-Azerbaijani friction turned violent after the region’s parliament voted to join Armenia. At this time, an estimated 20,000-30,000 people were killed as Armenian Armed Forces took over and occupied other Azerbaijani lands outside of Nagorno-Karabakh. After the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh illegally declared itself independent, which escalated the conflict into war.

Three years later, when a Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed in 1994, Nagorno-Karabakh and other Azerbaijani territories were left under Armenian control. While the war was taking place, over one million people fled. Before the war, about 25% of the total population was Azerbaijani. They fled from Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia as ethnic Armenians fled the other way, and both sides have suffered severe casualties.

A stalemate has been in place since the truce due to Azerbaijani resentment over land loss and Armenian refusal to give back what Azerbaijanis believe is rightfully theirs. Russia, France, and the US have been working towards an end to the dispute. 

Azerbaijan declared the new constitution approval from a 2006 referendum illegitimate. The peace process has slowly shown progress as Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents continue to meet. Over the last decade, the region has suffered a large degree of violence and ceasefire violations. 

The Republic of Azerbaijan has a population of 9.6 million with Azerbaijani and Russian as its major languages and Islam as its major religion. Azerbaijan’s main exports are oil and oil products, and gas.

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  • Anush Babajanyan
  • Zackary Canepari
  • Jessica Dimmock
  • Linda Bournane Engelberth
  • Danny Wilcox Frazier
  • Ziyah Gafic
  • Ashley Gilbertson
  • Ron Haviv
  • Ed Kashi
  • Maciek Nabrdalik
  • Ilvy Njiokiktjien
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  • Ruddy Roye
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  • Tomas Van Houtryve

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