A great week back in the big apple and saw the Moving Walls 19 opening reception being held in great style at the Open Society Foundations headquarters in New York City. The work ha sheen well received and looks great on the walls at OSF and its great to be partnered with them now to promote this issue even further. Below is a short clip of the opening night and some images of the installation. Thanks to all at OSF in the Documentary Photography Project and the Burma Project – here’s to the future.
A first for France as this saturday’s ‘Le Portfolio’ section in ‘Le Magazine du Monde’ features an 8 page article previewing the book and the issue of Burma’s political prisoners.
Click this link to read the full article – Birmans en Dissidence
With the exhibition and book launch tomorrow evening (Thursday 24th) at the Serindia Gallery, the Bangkok Post ‘Life’ section features a cover feature of ‘Abhaya’ plus an interview with gallery owner Shane Suvikapakornul.
Read the full article here – Portraits of Fearlessness
With rumours of the latest prisoner amnesty circulating like wildfire once more and the book getting its first airing in public (full details and photos to follow very soon I hope!) here’s a recent interview with Francis Wade from DVB about political prisoners and photographing in the pariah state:
Click to read the interview – Power Through A Lens
With no end in sight to the recent horrific flooding in Thailand, and in particular for me in Bangkok, the book seemed destined to be delayed by the deluge of water that seemed never ending. But somehow the first batch managed to make it out in between low and high tide and arrived just in time for me to despatch the first few copies before heading over another large expanse of water to the USA. Signing my first book was a novel experience and provided much entertainment, but was a great pleasure and honour to do so for a good friend and someone who works so hard for Prisoners of Conscience in Burma and around the world. The Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund provides grants for relief and rehabilitation to people who have been persecuted, imprisoned and tortured for their conscientiously-held beliefs. The assistance they provide is vital and the small team who work there lead by Lynn Carter work valiantly for political prisoners, human rights defenders, lawyers, environmental activists, teachers and academics who come from many different countries such as Burma, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Iran, Cameroon and Eritrea.
Signing my life away…
After a nice cup of afternoon tea (when in Rome as they say…) there was just about time to deliver the final copy to my friends at Bayeux in London’s Soho,who have provided so much help and support over the years and are mighty fine printers to boot. So a huge thanks must go to Terry, Rick, Julie, Iris and all the team – not just for printing the recent 5ft prints that are on their way to New York for the OSI Moving Walls exhibition opening on the 30th, but for featuring the work in the windows and on display inside the reception area – cheers guys for all the hard work and support over the years.
A Bayeux Tapestry to be proud of.
Even Rhianna can’t keep her eyes off it.
Hopefully not long now until books can start hitting the shelves and I see Amazon already have it on special offer so get your copies now for a few dollars less, although think I might have to have words with my co-author about this at the weekend. With imminent exhibitions and book launches in Bangkok and New York in a couple of weeks time, it might just be somewhere closer to home where the book actually gets its first public viewing… surely not Rangoon I hear you say… That would be ridiculous…
Wouldn’t it just.
CNN anchor, Kristie Lu Stout, presents a slideshow of ‘Abhaya – Burma’s Fearlessness’ on the primetime daily show, News Stream, on the day that 227 political prisoners were released from jail in Burma. Topping the headline news makes a welcome change for Burma and one we could relish as well with our work on display to millions across the world enjoying their breakfast in America, afternoon tea in the UK or evening noodles in Asia. The early morning call from Hong Kong lead to a crazy day dashing across London as slowly, one by one, political prisoners were being released. Being stuck in Europe on this of all days was not ideal considering the time difference and logistical difficulties trying to get updates using Skype and G-talk whilst constantly on the move, but luckily I managed to find a quiet room at Getty Images to do the voice over that took more attempts at trying to get a clear line than it does when trying to call into Burma. A moment in the spotlight for this work and Burma, despite the end result seeing fewer released than expected. Hopefully there is more to come as the countdown to the book being launched in Rangoon in mid-November draws ever closer.
On the day the Burmese regime finally announce the long expected prisoner amnesty, the Guardian newspaper pull out all the stops and go big for a double page centre spread on the former political prisoners from this project that is now better known as the book ‘Abhaya – Burma’s Fearlessness’. There is also a beautiful online slideshow gallery that can be viewed on the Guardian website with a premiere showing of the Lady’s portrait and others from inside Burma including U Tin Oo and Dr Daw May Win Myint.
See the full size article here – Guardian Eyewitness: Abhaya Burma’s Fearlessness
Today is also the day that the book gets launched at the Frankfurt book-fair. It’s been a busy day all round but nothing has been achieved yet. Here’s hoping that later on today there will be good news and we can finally start celebrating the release of political prisoners… and everything else as well.
After 3 long years of hard work and over 100,000 miles travelled, finally the book of our long term project documenting Burma’s political prisoners will be published in November 2011 by River Books. Hopefully all political prisoners will also be released by then as well.
Featuring a foreword written by Aung San Suu Kyi and portraits of more than 250 former political prisoners in exile around the world (as well as over 50 from inside Burma, including leaders of the National League for Democracy), ‘Abhaya – Burma’s Fearlessness’ captures a moment in time in Burma’s history, dated October 2011, with more than 2,000 political prisoners incarcerated.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Abhaya mudrā (“mudrā of fear-not”) represents protection, peace and the dispelling of fear.
In 1962 a military coup lead by General Ne Win saw Burma, an isolated Buddhist country in South-East Asia, come under the power of one of the world’s most brutal regimes. For the past five decades, thousands of people have been arrested, tortured and given long prison sentences for openly expressing their beliefs and for daring to defy dictators who tolerate no form of dissent or opposition to their rule.
Today, more than 2,000 political prisoners including monks, students, journalists, lawyers, elected Members of Parliament and over 300 members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party, The National League for Democracy, are incarcerated in Burma’s notorious prisons.
In Burma and across the world, almost 300 hundred former political prisoners have come together to raise awareness of the tragic plight of their colleagues still detained in jail. Photographed standing with their right hand raised, palm out-turned facing the camera, the name of a current political prisoner is shown written on their hand. The sacred Buddhist gesture of Abhaya, “Fear Not”, is not only an act of silent protest, but also one of remembrance and fearlessness.
“The people featured in this book have all had to learn to face their fears squarely during the decades they have passed in the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. Their commitment has been their courage. It is important that they and what they stand for should not be forgotten, that their sufferings as well as their aspirations should be remembered.”
“I hope that all who read this book will be encouraged to do everything they can to gain the freedom of political prisoners in Burma and to create a world where there are no political prisoners” Aung San Suu Kyi
View the project in its entirety at www.enigmaimages.net
The Open Society Institute has selected my long term project for Burma’s political prisoners ‘Even Though I’m Free I Am Not‘ to be part of the prestigious Moving Walls exhibition programme. The exhibition opens in New York with a reception on November 30th and lasts for 9 months before moving to Washington DC for a further 9 months. With 400 applications submitted, being selected as one of seven photographers to be part of this programme is humbling to say the least. Also with my work being shown in the main reception area, it’s a massive honour for me and for everyone involved in this work over the past 3 years and is of course very exciting, but most importantly it gives the issue of Burma’s political prisoners another platform and hopefully valuable exposure – there will be an exclusive first showing of a number of former political prisoners from inside Burma who we have been waiting for the right time to show to the world. This is that time.
CLICK HERE for full details on the OSI website
This is without doubt one of the biggest recognitions possible for this work. To me it’s like winning an ‘Oscar’ especially when I look at all the names of those whose work has been chosen for this exhibition programme since it’s inception in 1998 including the likes of Tim Hetherington, Marcus Bleasdale, Eugene Richards, Steve McCurry, Larry Towell, Lynsey Addario, Stefano de Luigi, Ami Vitale, Ed Kashi… the list is endless. It’s astonishing and I am totally humbled. From the OSI website:
‘Moving Walls represents the transitional condition of open societies and the promotion and maintenance of democratic values. It recognises the brave and difficult work that photographers undertake globally in their documentation of complex social and political issues. Their images provide the world with human rights evidence, put faces onto a conflict, document the struggles and defiance of marginalized people, reframe how issues are discussed publicly, and provide opportunities for reflection and discussion. Through Moving Walls, the Open Society Foundations honor this work while visually highlighting the mission of our foundation to staff and visitors.’