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  1. 1. A Broken Landscape By Gideon Mendel Presented by Kevin Cook
  2. 2. Biography <ul><li>Born in Johannesburg in 1959. </li></ul><ul><li>Studied psychology and African History at the University of Cape Town. </li></ul><ul><li>After graduation he began freelancing for Agence-France Presse, and as a correspondent of Magnum Photos, documenting social change and conflict in South Africa. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1990 he moved to London, but has continually documented social issues in Africa (and globally). </li></ul><ul><li>He began addressing the subject Aids in Africa since 1993. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Mendel path to photographic documentation of AIDS <ul><li>Began working with Positive Lives, organized by Network, the photo agency Mendel was working with. </li></ul><ul><li>Positive Lives was a project founded in the U.K. in which photographers responded to AIDS in the U.K </li></ul><ul><li>“ My first exposure to the issue was photographing in an AIDS ward in London. I found the situation different than any I’d ever experienced as a photojournalist. It was only 10 percent photography and 90 percent communication and connection with people, dealing with issues of confidentiality, considering how people should be projected, being sensitive not to portray people as victims. That same year, I made contact with a mission hospital in Zimbabwe and I photographed there” (Gideon Mendel, during an exhibition of his work at the U.N. Special Session on AID). </li></ul>
  4. 4. Some of Mendel’s Work
  5. 5. Mendel path to photographic documentation of AIDS cont. <ul><li>“ I felt that as an African photographer I needed to find a way to respond to the AIDS crisis which was clearly developing in Africa at that time. So that essay, looking at one remote hospital in an area where more than 25 percent of pregnant women were testing HIV-positive, was the beginning of my work on HIV and AIDS in Africa.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Initially, I approached it in a very direct, photojournalistic way, looking to make strong images. When people are dying from AIDS, they’re skeletal. Visually, it is often a very extreme and dramatic situation. But by working on this issue over the years, I have found I’ve really had to challenge myself and my way of approaching the subject. I’m much more concerned about portraying people in a more positive, individualized way. I have also chosen to keep on returning to some communities that I have photographed in, sort of digging a deeper hole, getting more connected to a few communities, rather than having wider geographical coverage.” </li></ul>
  6. 6. About Positive Lives <ul><li>Established in 1993 by Steve Mayes, Lyndall Stein </li></ul><ul><li>Positive Lives is a global project that supports those living with HIV/AIDS and “challenges the stigma and prejudices they face.” </li></ul><ul><li>Uses photography and personal testimonies, to confront the negative preconceptions surrounding HIV/AIDS. </li></ul><ul><li>Works with internationally-acclaimed photographers who highlight the unfair treatment, struggle and challenges that people living with HIV/AIDS face. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Positive Lives represents one of the first and most original efforts to connect artistic imagination with photo advocacy” (Ida Susser). </li></ul>
  7. 7. A few photos <ul><li>Left: Mzokonah Malevu from South Africa </li></ul><ul><li>Right: Reverend Gideon Byamugisha from Uganda </li></ul>
  8. 8. About A Broken Landscape <ul><li>Explains in photos and text what the AIDS epidemic means to some of the individuals, families and communities whose lives it has transformed. </li></ul><ul><li>Feature photographs and personal testimonies from Malaiw, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Transcends the terrible statistics of the disease. Often stories of people dying of AIDS, these are also stories about fighting back - every photograph represents an act of courage, every individual featured taking a stand for AIDS understanding and prevention. And there are many positive stories here, as communities and nations learn what it takes to conquer the epidemic.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Testifies to the extraordinary bravery and love which thrive in the most appalling of circumstances. It asks how humanity is allowing a treatable illness to ravage a continent, and it demands our response” (Quotes from Foto8 an online resource for Photojournalism). </li></ul>
  9. 9. Critique of A Broken Landscape <ul><li>“ Mendel's work analyzes the health care conditions in Africa, while presenting powerful images of activists in local communities struggling against denial and ignorance through creative educational programs. Similarly, Salgado's work, commissioned by the WHO, focuses on the local efforts of individuals and communities to immunize children in the face of material difficulties and prejudice” (Carol Squiers in her book The Body at Risk: Photography of Disorder, Ilness, and Healing). </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>“ Gideon Mendel's work on HIV/AIDS, which is understood by many to be the new South African struggle, is a significant example of this trend (Fig. 7). Despite the overtly political nature of this work, the aesthetic and humanitarian qualities of Mendel's photography have won him ready acceptance in art gallery contexts. Recently, Mendel has begun to use such spaces as yet another medium through which he can get his message out. His opening functions and book launches have been turned into activist rallies, which become newsworthy events in themselves; his collaboration with AIDS organizations, for example the Treatment Action Campaign and Medecins sans Frontiers, brings a noisy new public to the gallery spaces. Moreover, Mendel's own recent projects--on the one hand, making portraits by inviting people to represent themselves directly or indirectly against an informal frame of black tape and exhibiting this image with the subject's own statement and, on the other hand, making enlarged contact strips of people's daily activities--seem to challenge the power relationships of conventional portraiture and documentary photography respectively, as his use of the gallery itself is intended to disturb establishment practice” (Michael Godby in his book 10 South African Documentary Photographers). </li></ul>Critique of A Broken Landscape
  11. 11. Critique of A Broken Landscape <ul><li>Mendel’s commitment to the cause is evident, as is Mendel's respect and affection for the subjects of his photographs. As a result, the mood generated by these powerful images is one of optimism as well as sadness. Early on, Mendel realized that, as an educational tool, images alone did not convey enough information, so he added narrative text to each image. In many pictures, the words are those of the subject of the photograph. The personal stories of Joseph Gabriel, Susan Atuhura, and Mzokhona Malevu, of voluntary care workers, nurses, and families facing AIDS provide both a human face to the statistics and insight into the work of those who are dedicated to helping reduce the spread of the virus” (Jane de Burgh, from her article A Broken Land: Images of AIDS in Africa). </li></ul>
  12. 12. Critique of A Broken Landscape <ul><li>“ The moving and honest photo collection of a South African photographer, Gideon Mendel entitled 'A Broken Landscape,' raises awareness of the situation, both in Africa and in the Western countries. In many pictures, the narratives convey those of the subject of the photograph. The personal stories of Joseph Gabriel, Susan Atuhura, and Mzokhona Malevu, of the voluntary care workers, nurses, and families facing AIDS provide both a human face to the statistics and insight into the work of those who are dedicated to helping reduce the spread of the virus. The images show the despair, the wasted limbs, the overcrowded hospitals where between one and three health care workers die from AIDS each month, and the grandmothers faced with caring for their orphaned grandchildren, many of whom are infected with HIV” (Jane de Burgh, from her article A Broken Land: Images of AIDS in Africa). </li></ul>
  13. 13. Critique of A Broken Landscape <ul><li>“ His depiction of that reality is astonishing in its power, in its graphic truth, in its respectful distance and in its searing intimacy. He places before us images that shock us with their force and closeness. The reason is that he has involved himself with the extremity of his subjects' struggle, who are at the very edge of life. He shows us the inexpressible complexity, the terrible simplicity, and the dignity of that state. In achieving this, neither the artist nor his exhibition has been static. As events have moved, he has included them - the court battle about the provision of anti-retroviral medication to pregnant mothers, the claim to life of those who for the first time are now gaining access to longer-term drug therapy. In all of this the artist is depicting a truth. But his work also makes a call to action. The exhibition challenges those who view it to take a position on the lives and the deaths of those it represents” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Controversies/ Issues surrounding Mendel’s Project <ul><li>Some believed that Mendel, who once documented various social and political movements in South Africa, was only concerned with AIDS, once he moved to London. </li></ul><ul><li>“ For years, young South African photographers had been used to supplying local and international networks with images. After 1990, and more particularly after the extraordinary success of the first democratic elections in 1994, the country became less newsworthy and world attention focused elsewhere.” </li></ul><ul><li>Mendel was criticized “for simply abandoning the [photographic] medium and turned to other forms of creative expression.” </li></ul><ul><li>Mendel neglected his journalistic responsibilities and become more of an activist (he admits this). </li></ul>
  15. 15. Impact of Mendel’s Project <ul><li>Mendel’s ability to effectively show and communicate stories allowed people to understand that AIDS is not just a statistic or graph. </li></ul><ul><li>Redefined the “typical” portrayal of an AIDS victim </li></ul><ul><li>Did not only show those effected and their families, but also various AIDS education functions and lectures. Served as a educational tool. </li></ul><ul><li>The testimonies featured in Mendel’s work gives the reader an understanding of the personal nature of the work. Mendel does not “write” the stories. The Africans do. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Other Work/Awards <ul><li>Has worked for National Geographic, Fortune Magazine, Cond e Naste Traveler, Geo, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian Weekend Magazine, L'Expresd, etc </li></ul><ul><li>He has also worked with key charities such as Action Aid, MSF, Christian Aid, Crisis and Treatment Action Campaign. </li></ul><ul><li>Since A Broken Landscape he created many multi-media projects such as recorded location sound, animated stills and panoramic images. Has also created projects that have ranged from poster sets, to booklets, to short films and website presentations. In 2003 he made a series of short films, entitled “The Harsh Divide” which were broadcast on Channel 4 in Britain. </li></ul><ul><li>W. Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography, 1996 </li></ul><ul><li>Amnesty International Media Award for Photojournalism, 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>Pictures of the Year, Award of Excellence and Canon Photo Essay Award, 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>World Press Photo, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1994, 1992 </li></ul><ul><li>Nikon Photo Essay Award, 1998 </li></ul><ul><li>Pictures of the Year, First Prize, Canon Photo Essay Award 1995 </li></ul><ul><li>Nikon Photographer of the Year, 1995 </li></ul>
  17. 17. In Conclusion <ul><li>“ Photographs can be powerful weapons. They can convey intimacy, tragedy, passion and hope. I do not consider myself an objective photographer. I see my work on AIDS in Africa as partisan and committed to social issues. I hope that my images address the pain and suffering caused by the disease yet at the same time work to challenge the stereotype of people with AIDS in Africa as pathetic victims. In Africa, as in the West, people with AIDS are starting to come together to mobilize against the prejudices they often face, to help their own communities fight against the virus, to demand equal access to new drug treatments. As a photojournalist it is all too easy to be drawn to horror. It is much harder to photograph hope. In order to properly address this issue, I feel that it is important to do both well” (Gideon Mendel). </li></ul>