Conflict, women and changing gender roles in Burma

This beautiful and moving set of images, Act of Resilience by Marta Tucci (in collaboration with Foto8) explores the changing gender roles of the women of the Rohingya of Burma, one of “the most persecuted, vulnerable and forgotten ethnic minorities in the world”.

The cultural and historical roles and constructions of  ‘family’ and ‘society’, disintegrate in the presence of conflict, through the loss of male figures in combat and mass movements of people fleeing. Whilst not necessarily more vulnerable conflict affects the life of women in a fundamentally different, gendered, way. Women are “forced to assume new responsibilities, roles, strength of character and resilience”. Tucci documents this through a series of stills out together in a  video. Her mixture of posed subdued environmental portraits in the refugee camp and more candid photographs and landscapes make for a moving and through providing collection of images, made even more poignant by the accompanying music and sad story of Janna Ara narrated over the top.

Read and see more by clicking here.

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Photograph by Marta Tucci (copyright)

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Open University climate change and culture podcasts

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This free series ‘Mediating Change‘, a great set of podcasts by The Open University, in partnership with The Ashden Trust, and FREE in iTunes.

Our generation has seen the topic of climate change become a major area of concern and research and a hotly contested discussion point in politics. This series of podcasts asks, “how do artists, writers, musicians and broadcasters respond when a new subject appears that is as large and significant as this? What kind of novels, plays, paintings, sculptures, movies and music begin to emerge?”

‘Mediating Change’ is a four-part series, chaired by BBC Radio 4’s Quentin Cooper, which looks at what happens when culture meets climate change. The panelists range from artists and curators to academics and journalists and together they explore the cultural response to climate change, looking at where it started, what it looks like today, who it’s aimed at and where it’s going.

Mediating Change‘ is free from iTunes

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Climate refugees: place and identity in a changing world

This really interesting piece in The Guardian documents the story of the people of Newtok, Alaska, a community seen as America’s first climate refugees. Climate refugees are defined as “people displaced from their homes by the impact of a changing climate”. Interestingly, the current definition of a refugee in international law is narrower and includes people displaced by war, violence or persecution, but not environmental changes. This may soon have to change.

This interactive series highlights the very real, lived effects of global climate change on a community intricately inked to their environment, both in terms of their everyday livelihood and surroundings but increasingly in a global context, through climate change. The use of text, video and photography is a great combination and The photographs and video by Richard Sprenger are informative, interesting, beautiful and at times moving. The piece goes some way to link people, landscape and understandings of identity and place in relation to environment and demonstrates how these are all now are being forced to change with global environmental change.

I am reminded that changes in the climate are not just a concern for developing countries (though certainly developing countries feel the impacts of a shifting climate heavily and tend to be much more vulnerable to them) but these changes can and will be felt everywhere. I am also reminded me how global changes, that can often seem abstract when talked about in terms of carbon emissions and so on, have very on-the-ground consequences.  Small scale, everyday changes that produce a less energy and carbon intensive lifestyle are important and link us to large global changes, but further to this there needs to be serious shifts at a much larger scale, with drastic changes in politics, economics and policy needed, but nothing new there…

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Photograph: Richard Sprenger

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Whistable

This summer (August 2013) I was taken on my first trip to Whitstable, on the Kentish coast, a place which inspired me photographically and which I keen to lean more about. The picturesque town dates back to before the writing of the Domesday Book and is famous for it’s Oysters, collected in the area since at least Roman times. It also has thriving artistic and creative community.

As is often the case, I was also attracted to the less picturesque or ‘natural’ elements; the underbelly that keeps the town alive. This side of the town tends to be over-looked in most photographic representations of Whitstable but to me are a fundamental part of what ‘makes’ Whitstable and are visually interesting, standing in contrast to the sea and pretty town.

The freshly caught shellfish, available throughout the year at an array of seafood restaurants and pubs are de-shelled with whirring equipment that seems to be continuously o the go, pictured below in red, with seagulls flying around.
Constructed in 1831, the harbour at Whitstable was the first in the world to be served by a railway. The railway is no longer there but it remains a busy working harbour, with shipping, fishing, wind farm maintenance and Brett Aggregates, a supplier of aggregates and asphalt for the construction industry in Kent, which provides long-term employment for local people.

Below is the beginning of my exploration into this interesting town, from sea to the industry.

Wondering around it is clear why many artists work there, with the beautiful landscape and light, but still I am always interested to think about the places that artists are drawn to, where and why they find inspiration. As well as continuing to explore Whitstable in all in forms, I would be keen to go look at the lives of the artists and their creative connection to Whitstable and the sea. I am inspired by this interesting portrait project by Neil Sloman, who documents the creative live of Whitstable through photographs of artists in their studios.

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