ZEKE Fall 2019

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Contents includes:

"Youth of Belfast" by Toby Binder, and "Delta Hill Riders" by Rory Doyle, winners of ZEKE Award for Documentary Photography

"Rising Tides" with photographs by Sean Gallagher, Lauren Owens Lambert, and Michael O. Snyder

"Out of the Shadows: Shamed Teen Mothers of Rwanda" by Carol Allen Storey

Interview with Lekgetho Makola, Head of Market Photo Workshop, South Africa, by Caterina Clerici

"Why Good Pictures of Bad Things Matter" by Glenn Ruga

Book Reviews and more...

2018 2019 VOL.4/NO.2 VOL.5/NO.2 $9.95 US/$10.95 US/$11 CANADA



Published by Social Documentary Network

FALL 2019 VOL.5/NO.2

$10 US/$11 CANADA

Toby Binder from Youth of Belfast

Rory Doyle from Delta Hill Riders

Michael O. Snyder from Rising Tides

Carol Allen-Storey from Out of the Shadows


Photographs by Toby Binder


Text by Alessandra Bergamin


Photographs by Rory Doyle


Text by Zeb Larson


Photographs by Sean Gallagher, Lauren Owens Lambert,

Michael O. Snyder

Text by Tammy Danan





Photographs by Carol Allen-Storey

40 | Aesthetics of Documentary:

Why Good Pictures of Bad Things Matter

by Glenn Ruga

43 | Contributors

52 | Interview with Lekgetho Makola

by Caterina Clerici

54 | Book Reviews

60 | Award Winners

On the Cover

Emily. Photo by Toby Binder from

Youth of Belfast

Lekgetho Makola from Market Photo Workshops,

South Africa. Photo by Siphosihle Mkhwanazi





Published by Social Documentary Network

Dear ZEKE Readers:

Welcome to the tenth issue of ZEKE magazine!

What keeps us going is 1) our love of the photographic image, and 2) our belief in the

ability of photographs to communicate important information about our world, especially

at a time when our experiences are more visual than ever. To lay out a greater case for

the documentary image, I hope you will take a few minutes to read the essay I wrote on

page 40 of this issue about the aesthetics of documentary photography and why good

photos of bad things matter. I believe, more than anything, this describes why documentary

photography matters to me.

In this issue of ZEKE, we are proud to feature the work of the winners of the first ZEKE

Award for Documentary Photography, Toby Binder (Germany) and Rory Doyle (US), in

addition to features on Rising Tides with photographers Lauren Owens Lambert and

Michael O. Snyder (both from the US), and Sean Gallagher (based in Hong Kong);

and finally a feature on teen pregnancy in Rwanda by UK-based photographer

Carol Allen-Storey.

As a prelude to the next issue of ZEKE, we have an interview by Caterina Clerici with

Lekgetho Makola, Head of the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa. What

we learned from this interview is there is a remarkable photo community in Africa, which we

know little about here. We look forward to exploring this vibrant community in the next issue

of ZEKE which will be a special issue on photography in Africa, guest-edited by Makola.

At the time I am writing this letter, the US is reeling from two mass shootings—in El Paso,

Texas and Dayton, Ohio. The first by an avowed white supremacist espousing racial hatred

and the second by a mentally ill person just filled with hate. What these two shooters have

in common is that they are white, male, and have unfettered access to semi-automatic high

powered weapons. While I wouldn’t suggest putting any restrictions on the first two qualities

(some may disagree with this position), it is long overdue that we question whether highly

dangerous and lethal weapons should be freely available to anyone. We don’t allow access

to automatic weapons or certain classes of explosives; we enforce speed limits; we heavily

regulate food, children’s toys, medicines, automobiles and many other aspects of our society.

It is about time we outlaw these weapons.

But the connection I see between photography and mass shootings in the US is not the

obvious one—it is not to shine light on the shooters or the massacres. Rather it is to shine

light on the sanctity of the lives of everyone else—me, you, our families, friends, coworkers,

fellow citizens in these united states of America, and to make a case why these lives

need to take precedent over the dubious right to own weapons of mass destruction. What

photography does so well is to describe individual people and to help us see both our

common humanity and our common diversity, all deserving of equal love and protection.

Matthew Lomanno

Glenn Ruga

Executive Editor

ZEKE FALL 2019/ 1



Photographs by Toby Binder

Northern Ireland will have to

leave the European Union due

to UK’s Brexit referendum in

2016, although a majority of its

citizens voted to remain. While

the local Protestant Unionists

voted to leave, the Catholic Nationalists

wanted to remain within the EU.

This photo essay covers the situation

of young people in Catholic and

Protestant neighborhoods of Belfast.

It shows that kids in Northern Ireland

often suffer the same problems no matter

if they live on one or the other side of

the wall: unemployment, drug abuse,

violence and lack of perspectives are

often omnipresent.

Toby Binder, born in 1977 in

Germany, studied at the Stuttgart State

Academy of Art and Design. He focused

his photography on social, environmental

and political topics. Now based

in Argentina and Germany, he works

on assignments and personal projects

where he finds his topics in post-war

and crisis situations as well as in the

daily life of people.

His work is patient and intimate,

without being pervasive and has been

awarded internationally: the Nannen-

Preis in 2017, the Sony World Photo

Awards in 2017 and 2019, and the

Philip Jones Griffiths Award in 2018.

In that year, he received an Honorable

Mention at the UNICEF Photo of the


His work is published by Stern,

Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, die

Zeit, Greenpeace Magazin, Amnesty

Journal, Neue Zürcher Zeitung and


2 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

Megan (16) and Joshua (17)

photographed in 2017 at N

Howard link, Shankill. They are

still together and have a baby

girl. Joshua is working in road

maintenance now.

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ZEKE APRIL FALL 2015/ 2019/ 3

Sophie and Jade at a local water

reservoir in Clonard. It’s a popular

spot for teenagers to gather as it’s a

small park with a lake and not seen

from the streets.

4 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2015/ 2019/ 5

Cole, Sandy Row.

6 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

Rachel, Clonard.

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2015/ 2019/ 7

8 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

Young girls sitting on the sidewalk

of Tennent Street, Shankill.

Often there is not much to do

and kids just meet on the streets.

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2015/ 2019/ 9

10 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

Sean’s Mini Market at Cavendish

Street, Clonard—a typical corner

shop where many teenagers

gather, buy their soft drinks,

cigarettes, crisps and chocolate.

Growing up in Belfast, photographer

Toby Binder said, “these

little shops always were the

places for me to get in touch with

the young people or meet them


ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 11

Youth of Bel


with a Legacy

of Conflict and

the Looming

Brexit Crisis

by Alessandra


Photos by Toby Binder

Last April marked more

than twenty years since

the end of Northern

Ireland’s sectarian conflict

known as “the Troubles.” The

more than 30-year war pitted

Irish Catholic nationalists,

who favored unification with

the Republic of Ireland to the

south, against Protestant loyalists

who supported continued

British rule. While memories

of bombings and bloodshed

linger and signs of segregation

still divide the capital city of

Belfast, the country’s youth are

torn between a palpable past

and an uncertain future.

The roots of the Troubles

stretch back to the creation

of Northern Ireland itself. The

Unionist political establishment,

which was largely Protestant,

maintained power over the

Irish Catholic minority through

discriminatory policies. In

the 1960s, inspired by the

American civil rights movement,

the country’s Irish Catholic

community formed a civil

rights association to protest the

systemic discrimination. But the

organization’s peaceful protests

were often met with excessive

force, only heightening tensions

between the police, politicians,

and the movement. As the

situation escalated, the British

Army was deployed to Northern

Ireland, and soon Unionist

and Republican paramilitaries

— such as the Irish Republican

Army (IRA) and the Ulster

Defense Association — formed.

As riots and bombings became

commonplace, brick and steel

“peace walls” were erected to

separate sectarian communities.

The Troubles reached a new,

violent height in 1972 when

British paratroopers opened

fire on Catholic demonstrators

in Derry, killing 13 people and

injuring 14 more. In 2010, an

official inquiry determined that

the attack, which came to be

known as ‘Bloody Sunday,’ was


An actual possibility for

peace wouldn’t arrive until the

late 1990s when the British

and Irish governments and

paramilitary groups met to

discuss a peace treaty. The

talks led to the landmark Good

Friday Agreement in December

12 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

1999 and the creation of the

Northern Ireland Assembly—a

power-sharing legislative

body that has the ability to

make laws in areas including

housing, employment, education,

and health. By the time

the bloodshed and bombings

ceased, more than 3,600

people had died and thousands

more were injured. In the

decades since the treaty was


As the country’s hardwon

power sharing

agreement flounders,

Brexit looms with uncertainty,

and the country’s

youth face issues of

continued segregation

and suicide, a united

Northern Ireland is more

important than ever.

signed peace has been successful,

albeit tenuous. Now, as

the country’s hard-won political

assembly flounders, Brexit

looms with uncertainty, and the

country’s youth face issues of

continued segregation and suicide,

a united Northern Ireland

is more important than ever.

A Legacy of


While Northern Ireland’s youth

have experienced the fruits of

peace rather than the tribulations

of war, research has

found that intergenerational

trauma continues to affect

the country’s population. A

2010 study by researchers

at the University of Ulster in

Northern Ireland found that

30 years after Bloody Sunday,

the victims’ children and

immediate family members

reported significant psychological

distress. In some cases,

especially among those closest

to the victims, their distress

was comparable to those who

had lived through war itself.

Stephen Mullan, the executive

director of Dreamscheme—an

organization that works with

at-risk youth in Belfast—has

observed this intergenerational


“When there’s pain

in your family history,

that’s harder to get over,”

Mullan said. “There’s a lot

of emotion that’s passed

through those stories.”

More broadly, Northern

Ireland’s youth are struggling

with mental health issues,

including anxiety and depression.

The legacy of conflict,

continued discrimination, poverty,

and high unemployment

are all contributing factors.

As a result, Northern Ireland’s

suicide rate is one of the highest

in the United Kingdom.

Between 1999 and 2014,

more than 3,700 people lost

their lives to suicide and nearly

a fifth of those people were

under 25 years old. Studies

have linked the high youth

suicide rate to the conflict in a

number of ways. In particular,

poverty combined with continued

segregation is thought to

increase risk factors that may

result in suicide.

“Kids now are not so much

hurting each other,” Mullan

said. “But hurting themselves.”

Sectarianism &


While the country’s ‘peace

walls’ are slowly being torn

down, sectarianism and

segregation still linger. In housing

estates such as Creggan,

where poverty and unemployment

are high, sectarian sentiments

are strong and appear to

be increasing as paramilitaries

regroup. Earlier this year, on

the night before Good Friday,

journalist Lyra McKee was shot

dead during a riot in Creggan.

The New IRA, a radical splinter

group of the original IRA, later

claimed responsibility but no

one has been charged with her


Segregated schools add

to the problem. Only seven

percent of school-aged children

in Northern Ireland attend an

officially integrated school.

This low percentage has created

a barrier to friendships

that stretch across ideological

lines. These divisions, however,

are disliked by young

people, many of whom prefer

integrated education. Dirk

Schubotz, a senior lecturer at

Queen’s University in Belfast,

directs an annual survey of

16-year-olds across Northern

Ireland and says this growing

preference for integrated

schools reflects young people’s

desire to separate themselves

from the past.

“Young people go out of

their way to say that ‘this is not

our conflict, it’s our parent’s or

our grandparent’s,’” Schubotz

said. “We also live at a time

where religion has become less

important— that’s not unique to

Northern Ireland, but there’s a

different element because of the


Looking Toward

the Future

Even in its uncertainty, the

prospect of Brexit has posed

a new concern for segments

of Northern Ireland’s youth. A

recent report found that 61 percent

of middle-income teenagers

are highly concerned about

withdrawing from the European

Union. Brexit, if enacted, would

have wide-reaching implications

for trade, immigration

and Northern Ireland’s shared

border with the Republic of

Ireland. More locally, Northern

Ireland’s political system has

essentially unraveled. The country’s

power-sharing Assembly

has not been in session for

more than two years due to a

falling out between Republican

and Unionist parties. For many

young people, optimistic that

the future of Northern Ireland

is one of unity, the Assembly’s

failing is a reminder that the

shadow of conflict will be present

as long as divisions persist.

“Most young people

would like Northern Ireland

to progress to the point where

you wouldn’t have to ask if

someone is British or Irish,”

says twenty-one-year old Tara

Grace Connolly who grew up

in Belfast. “We would like a

future of prosperity and progress,

not fear.”

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 13





It’s estimated that just after the Civil War,

one in four cowboys was African American.

Yet this population was drastically underrepresented

in popular accounts, and it is

still. The “cowboy” identity retains a strong

presence in many contemporary black


This ongoing project, “Delta Hill Riders,” sheds

light on the overlooked subculture of African

American cowboys and cowgirls in the rural

Mississippi Delta. The work resists both historical

and contemporary stereotypes. Rory Doyle has

captured black heritage rodeos, horse shows, trail

rides, “Cowboy Night” at black nightclubs, and

subjects’ homes across the Delta.

It’s a story that’s particularly timely with the current

political environment, and one that provides a

renewed focus on rural America. Doyle has captured

a group of riders showing love for their horses

and fellow cowboys/cowgirls, while also passing

down traditions and historical perspectives among


Rory Doyle is a photographer based in Cleveland,

Mississippi in the rural Mississippi Delta. Born and

raised in Maine, Doyle moved to the South in 2009

and has remained committed to the region ever

since. His work often highlights unique Southern

subcultures commonly overlooked.

Doyle is a 2018 Mississippi Visual Artist Fellow

through the Mississippi Arts Commission and

National Endowment for the Arts for his ongoing

project on African American cowboys and cowgirls,

“Delta Hill Riders.” Doyle won the 16th Annual

Smithsonian Photo Contest with the project in 2019.

The work was featured in the Half King Photo

Series in New York and The Print Space Gallery in

London before opening at the Delta Arts Alliance

in February 2019. He was also recognized for the

project by winning the 2019 Zeiss Photography

Award, and the photojournalism category at the

2018 Eye Em Awards in Berlin, Germany.

14 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

Bree Wrenn pets her friend’s horse

at sunset in Tallahatchie County,

Mississippi. April 2019.

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ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 15

James McGee poses for a

portrait atop his horse in Bolivar

County, Mississippi. November


16 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 17

Moonie Myles breaks a horse

before a looming storm just

outside Cleveland, Mississippi.

March 2018.

18 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 19

20 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

Frank Simpson poses for

a portrait in his home

in Shelby, Mississippi.

November 2017.

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 21

Peggy Smith groom her horse,

Big Jake, while others relax in

the afternoon light in Bolivar

County, Mississippi. October


22 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 23


The American West

has been endlessly mythologized,

and of its many myths, one of

the most enduring is the idea of

the West as a space for white

Euroamericans. Indigenous peoples,

Mexican Americans, and

Asians all existed in the West, but

in popular memory and culture

their presence is either missing

or heavily circumscribed. Like the

West, “cowboy” has taken on

an image all its own: it evokes

a white man on horseback, probably

between 1870 and 1890. Of

those missing groups, however, one

is especially conspicuous: the African

American cowboy. In a February

2017 issue of Smithsonian Magazine,

journalist Katie Nomjimbadem

estimated that as many as one in four

cowboys was black.

Enslaved Cowboys

Before the United States had declared

its independence from Great Britain,

enslaved persons were working as

cowhands and ranchers in parts of

the Carolinas. Even before emancipation

and the end of the Civil

War, enslaved persons worked as

cowboys in parts of the American

South. Once Texas was added to

the union, enslaved persons working

as cowboys became normal there.

Historian Peter Wood notes that some

plantation owners went so far as to

request new slaves from the Gambia

River region in Africa because they

were accustomed to working with

cattle. Enslaved cowboys were often

treated better than people working

cotton in part because their skillset

was more specialized and they were

not easily replaced. They had access

to better food, though they remained

in bondage and were traded much

like the livestock they saw after.

24 / ZEKE FALL 2019




Once the 13th Amendment

permanently ended chattel

slavery in the United States,

many of the freemen put

their skills to work by seeking

employment as cowboys.

Many of them remained with

their former masters out of

convenience, and compared to

freed persons who had worked

growing cotton, they enjoyed

far better circumstances. Their

labor was better compensated,

especially because of the

postwar demand for beef and

the absence of white labor in

places like Texas. In the Journal

of Blacks in Higher Education,

African American cowboys

were estimated to be anywhere

between a quarter and a third

of the men who worked the

famous Chisholm Trail. Part

of the cowboy lifestyle in the

South was born out of necessity:

Southern states actively

prevented freed slaves from

purchasing land, and it was

easier to work as a ranch hand

than it was to try and become

a farmer.

The Wild West

However, black cowboys did

not remain confined to the

South. The South was violent

and repressive, and it only

became more so with the end

of Reconstruction and the

return of white segregationist

governments to power. Many

cowboys headed out West to

escape the suffocating racial

mores of the South. To be sure,

the West was no guaranteed

safe haven for cowboys: plenty

of white settlers had moved

west precisely because they

didn’t want to compete with

African American laborers.

However, cowboys could still

leverage the skills that they

had, and because many parts

of the American West remained

poorly settled, accepting their

labor was a necessity.

Defying the World

The era of the Wild West

produced several noteworthy

African American cowboys,

many of whom filled the role to

the hilt. Nat Love, better known

as Deadwood Dick, was born

in Nashville, Tennessee into

slavery. In 1870, he headed

west and ended up in Dodge

City, where he worked on

cattle drives. He later headed

further out west to Arizona.

Like many cowboys, Dick liked

to tell tall tales of his exploits:

he claimed to have been an

expert gunfighter, participated

in cattle drives and

rodeos, and liked to

brag that he rode his horse into

a saloon to order whiskey for

the both of them.

Regardless of how much of

his life was the result of colorful

embellishment, it’s clear

he embraced the cowboy life

because it offered a degree of

freedom. In his autobiography

The Life and Adventures of Nat

Love, written in 1907, Love

spelled out why he liked being

a cowboy. “Mounted on my

favorite horse, my long horsehide

lariat near my hand, and

my trusty guns in my belt…I felt

I could defy the world.” He was

respected among his fellow

cowboys — black and white —

and his employers trusted him.

Rodeos and Riding

The cowboy era of the Wild

West was in decline after 1890

because much of the West had

either been settled or enclosed

through barbed wire: ranchers

no longer needed cowboys

to take cattle on long drives.

This did not mean the end

of cowboy work for African

Americans, however. Even as

the cowboy tradition declined,

its presence in the popular

imagination grew, partly

because of literature, music

and attractions like rodeos or

Wild West shows. The former

showcased cowboy skills like

riding and lassoing, while

the latter helped to create the

idea of the mythologized West

through staged gunfights and

trick shows.

African American cowboys

also helped to create the idea

of a cowboy in the public

imagination. Deadwood Dick

allegedly got his name from

participating in one such rodeo

in the town of Deadwood,

South Dakota (he also claimed

to be a record-holder for breaking

a horse in nine minutes).

The African American cowboy

Bill Pickett, also known as the

Dusky Demon, was responsible

for helping to invent

another rodeo tradition: steer

riding. Pickett was a cowboy

in Oklahoma who invented a

practice known as “bulldogging”

to wrestle steers to the

ground: he would jump from

a horse, grab the steer by the

horns, and bite it on the lip to

force it to the ground. Pickett

became famous and toured

with the likes of Buffalo Bill

Cody until his death in 1932.

Today, the tradition of

African American cowboys

survives through rodeos and

other public exhibitions. The

Bill Picket Invitational Rodeo is

an all-black touring rodeo that

is now entering its 34th year

of operations. Young cowboys

are drawn to it for a variety

of reasons. A young rider in

Charleston, Mississippi told

me how he got into riding:

he wanted to impress a girl

for prom by showing up on

a horse. For him, riding a

horse offers the same sense of

tranquility it offered Nat Love:

“It was kinda like a peace-ofmind,

it was a runaway place

from me. Just coming out of

high school, trying to figure out

life. It was a different feeling

and I still use it as a runaway

place. It’s just a peace place.

The horse will get your mind

out of whatever’s going on.”

ZEKE FALL 2019/ 25

Rising Tides

Photographs by:

Sean Gallagher

Lauren Owens Lambert

Michael O. Snyder

26 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

With the sea levels expected

to rise between 10 and 32

inches or higher by the end of

this century, more and more

coastal communities are on

the brink of living in limbo.

According to the Internal

Displacement Monitoring

Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, 18.8 million

disaster-related displacements happened

in 2017. And while such displacements

are linked to natural disasters, the worsening

global warming could be the root

cause. The World Bank also estimates that

by 2050, 143 million people from Latin

America, Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan

Africa alone would be forced to migrate due

to climate crisis.

Sean Gallagher’s exhibit, Tuvalu:

Beneath the Rising Tide shows the expanse

of this South Pacific nation island — how the

seas are slowly consuming the land and the

impact of strong water surges on the dwellings

of 11,200 Tuvaluans. Lauren Owens

Lambert’s Along the Waters Edge shows

what melting ice in places like Antarctica

does to regions like New England. While

her exhibit, The Farmer and the

Fishermen, displays how coastal communities

adapt and change livelihoods. Michael

O. Snyder, with his exhibit Eroding Edges,

infuses emotions into still images showcasing

the everyday lives of people in the US —

how rising tides bring out hope, innovative

solutions, and the human grit to keep pushing


Photo by Lauren Owens Lambert

The farming crew of Merry Oysters handpick

and load the boat during low tide on

Duxbury Bay, Massachusetts in July. Scientists

say ocean water has grown 30 percent more

acidic since the Industrial Revolution and is

on track to get worse in coming decades as

it soaks up excess carbon dioxide from air.

Although climate change poses challenges

such as ocean acidification and increasing

coastal storm intensity, the shellfish industry in

Massachusetts is one of the fastest growing

in the state. Shellfish such as oysters, scallops

and mussels are not only a good source for

local food, but because they are filter feeders,

they also help clean the ocean.

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ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 27

28 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

Photo by Michael O. Snyder

Jason Jones and Wade Murphy III raise

the sails at dawn on the Rebecca T.

Ruark, that, since 1886, has dredged

oysters from the Chesapeake Bay of

Maryland using only power from the

wind. Oysters, once the cornerstone of

the regional economy, have declined

by more than 98% since colonial times.

Despite a recent comeback, the oyster

stocks, and the watermen who depend

on them, remain threatened by changing

temperatures and rising tides.

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 29

30 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

Photo by Sean Gallagher

Fallen trees in the shallows of

Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu. Erosion

of land is an inevitable consequence

of life in a coral atoll

nation. As sea levels rise and

increased threats from storm

surges and extreme weather

events occur, the land of Tuvalu

will increasingly become fragile

and prone to erosion.

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 31

Photo by Sean Gallagher

Children play in an abandoned

home in central Funafuti. The

Pacific island nation has seen

an exodus of people who have

already fled to countries such

as New Zealand and Australia

in search of better economic

opportunities and less environmental


32 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 33

Photo by Lauren Owens


Communities developed on

barrier beaches such as Plum

Island, on the north shore of

Massachusetts, are particularly

vulnerable to coastal erosion

and major flooding from storm

surges and will continue to

face the challenges of climate

change. “Don’t build here if

you’re afraid of losing your

house,” says longtime resident

Verne Fisher.

34 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 35

Photo by Lauren Owens


In June 2016, community

organizer Magdalena Ayed, a

resident in East Boston, looks

out over her neighborhood

that is at risk of flooding from

the effects of climate change.

She says she’s happy that city

officials and some developers

are starting to take climate

change seriously.

36 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 37

By Tammy Danan

“We used to be able

to catch fish right from

under our houses,” says

Rogelio Alburo, a local

fisherman from Davao


Photos, L to R:

Arka Dutta, from Evanescing Waters,

Whisking Water.

Lauren Owens Lambert, from Along

the Waters Edge

David Verberckt, from Source of Life

Saud A. Faisal, from Water Prisoners


Located on the southern part

of the Philippines, most

houses in the country’s

coastal communities are on

wooden stilts. I was sitting

outside his neighbor’s house

joined by other fisherfolks and

their wives, and as Rogelio

reminisced about the 1970s

when the sea was still rich,

he also noted how today’s

conditions are hurting fishermen.

“I don’t remember exactly

when the water started rising,

but there was a time when we

were getting fewer and fewer

fish,” he said.

Today, coastal road development

in the city that swept

away hundreds of houses adds

to the burden. Now, fishermen

like Rogelio juggle multiple jobs

to provide basic needs for their

families. And for a country with

over 7,000 islands, Rogelio

and his neighbors are not the

only ones changing their livelihood

as the country’s coastal

communities experience the

rising waters.

Clear As Can Be

A report published by NASA

in 2018 shows that the rate of

global sea level rise has been

accelerating in recent decades.

The melting of sea ice in Antarctica

and Greenland due to

climate change is among the


Dr. Simon Engelhart, an

associate professor at the

University of Rhode Island

Geosciences Department, said

that the distribution of water

on the surface of the earth also

plays a part. “Features such

as ocean currents (e.g. the

Gulf Stream) and multi-year to

decadal variability within the

system (e.g., El Niño/La Niña)

can change the distribution of

water and cause increasing or

decreasing sea levels.” That

said, if the Gulf Stream off the

coast of the US slows down,

then more water flows towards

the US East Coast and there

will be faster rising sea levels.

And during El Niño/La Niña,

water levels in the Pacific can

change in the space of months

to years by nearly a foot.

Land, Water, and

Climate Refugees

As a result, many countries

in the Pacific region are now

feeling the impact. And those

in coastal communities are the

first to take the heat.

Lawrence Nodua is a

38 / ZEKE FALL 2019

esident of Reef Islands in the

Solomon Islands. “Life in the

coastal communities are more

[reliant] on fishing and few on

gardening,” he shared. But

because of the water’s rising

temperatures, the fish could

hardly survive as hot water

holds less oxygen. Add to that

the fact that the current has

become more confusing than

ever, fishermen can no longer

predict the best time to set

sail. As a result, they spend

more time in the sea than ever

before. Coral reefs in Solomon

Islands are also affected, and

as corals die, the fish lose their

breeding ground.

In a 2010 study conducted

by Nodua, it appeared that

internal migration in Solomon

Islands has increased in the past

two decades. Residents from

smaller islands such as Tikopia

and Duff move to larger islands

like Utupua, Santa Cruz, and

Vanikoro. But even this is not a

permanent solution. Nodua’s

research revealed that the

Solomon Islands has a much

bigger problem — a problem

shared by other nations like

Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu,

and Maldives — coastal erosion.

Dr. Engelhart has an explanation

for this. He says, “when

we talk about rising water levels,

we use the term ‘relative sea

level’ because we can change

the level of the sea that people

experience by either changing

the volume/distribution of water

or by changing the elevation

of the land with respect to the

ocean. Therefore, if the land is

subsiding, sea level will rise in

the eyes of an observer on that

subsiding land even if the ocean

volume isn’t changing.”

And while most people think

coastal erosion is simply caused

by waves and tides washing

away the land, Dr. Engelhart

highlighted the role of tectonics,

saying it’s one of the long-term

processes that can alter the land

level. “Earth’s tectonic plates

moving past each other and

getting stuck and then releasing

make the land elevation change.

These land-level changes can be

slow and happen over hundreds

to thousands of years but also

can happen quickly where as

much as a couple of meters

elevation change can happen

in seconds to minutes when a

large earthquake occurs such as

occurred in Sumatra in 2004 or

Japan in 2011.”

Health at Risk

While conducting his study,

Nodua found out that the

climate crisis does have massive

effects on food security.

Residents of the Tuo village in

Reef Islands have seen how the

prolonged dry weather causes

root crops and fruit trees to

bear less. In late 2004 to early

2005, Reef Islanders’ staple

food ran low. The rising waters

cause swamps to become more

saline, making it difficult to

grow swamp taro, a common

food in most countries in

Southeast Asia.

As a domino effect, this

problem further affects the

health of islanders not only in

Solomon Islands but coastal

communities in Southeast Asia

and globally. The challenge of

harvesting fruits due to unstable

weather patterns, and the

decline of food sources puts

children at risk of health and

nutritional problems.

Today, We Think. And

Think Better.

Islanders from different parts of

the globe may have historically

learned to embrace their

environment. They may have

learned how to understand

the waters and everything it

brings and takes. But now it

seems the rising waters and the

global climate have changed

its language.

Crosses and bones are

being washed away, leaving

people in Solomon Islands with

no decent place to bury their

dead. Nodua, who now works

closely with Oceans Watch

Solomon Islands, also found

that the rising sea is affecting

the access to fresh water in villages

like Tuo; their well water

started tasting saltier in the

early 1990s.

In the Philippines, the wives

of fisherfolks have their own

battle. Jenelyn Caro Quintalla

comes from a family of 16. Her

parents raised them all through

fishing. Today, Jenelyn is a

mother to six and her husband

is also a fisherman. But as

coastal road development eats

through their community, and

the waters continue to change

temperature, Jenelyn sometimes

finds herself wide awake at

night. “It’s not easy. I feel like

our life is in limbo. We can’t

fish anymore so my husband

works part-time at a construction

site; budgeting is always a

challenge,” she shared.


Oceans Watch Solomon Islands


Mother Nature Cambodia


Pacific Climate Warriors




Pacific Community


National Oceanic and

Atmospheric Administration


ZEKE FALL 2019/ 39

Aesthetics of DOCUM

Why good pictures of bad things matter

Why is it that the documentary

photography community

is obsessed with

seeking really good photographs

about really bad

things that the human race

brings upon each other? It is the core principal

of the Social Documentary Network

(SDN), ZEKE magazine and other similar

organizations. While we are driven to

defend victims of human rights abuses (an

admirable goal), why do we place such

a premium on images that present such

abuse, or in some cases solutions, in a

highly aestheticized manner?

With SDN, we have competitions

with respected jurors, all whom pour

over visual stories of the human condition

to select the one that is the most

40 / ZEKE FALL 2019

original, well-crafted, thoughtfully

composed, and addressing something

that the public deserves to know more

about and possibly act on. But it is those

photographs that are most aesthetically

successful that win the awards.

Much has been written by me and

others about photographers giving voice

to the voiceless, using powerful photography

to inspire action, shining a light

in dark places and other similar noble,

if not canned, responses. Perhaps it is

that artists (in this case documentary

photographers) use their strengths to

challenge injustices in the same way

writers, poets, playwrights, and activists

use the strengths they have to achieve

similar outcomes. But I believe there is

more to it.

Photo by Maryam Ashrafi from her SDN exhibit, Mourning

Kobané. A YPJ fighter looks over the wreckage left by

fighting on a street in Kobané, Syria, March 2015.

An Obsession with Aesthetics

Why are we obsessed with aesthetics

when aesthetics really has little to do

with the problem or solution? Would all

these resources be better spent if instead

we were out on the streets demanding


I believe the answer to our obsession

with, or commitment to, aesthetics lies

somewhere in the following explanations.

One is that the media knows that to

gain readers and viewers, they must

provide interesting and complex images

that only an inspired photographer can

deliver. Otherwise what remains is a

dense page of grey type that will neither

sell content nor attract advertisers. But




By Glenn Ruga

more significantly, a text-heavy factual

account will only draw the scholarly,

intellectually curious, or the activist

and not the ubiquitous everyman/

everywoman with a job, children, rent/

mortgage, and driven towards stability

for themselves and their family. The

majority of people on our planet don’t

have the time nor the mental capacity to

engage, but might pay attention when

their sensibility is stopped in its tracks by

a photo such as the Syrian child Aylan

Kurdi dead on a beach in Turkey.

The second reason I believe gets to

a more fundamental issue. The human

race is capable of the basest and ugliest

actions as evidenced by the many genocides

(loosely defined) committed just in

the last hundred years (the Holocaust,

Armenia, Rwanda, Cambodia,

Indonesia, Sudan, Darfur, Bosnia, Syria,

DRC, Rohingya, etc.) But the human race

is also capable of great heights of intellectual,

emotional, physical, cultural, and

magical achievements such as love, birth,

Mozart, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King,

NASA, Pablo Picasso, Pablo Casals,

Billie Holiday, Nelson Mandela, Vincent

Van Gough, Serena and Venus Williams,

Henri Cartier Bresson, Toni Morrison

as well as the drawings of children the

world over.

Acts of Defiance

For all who strive for beauty in the face

of suffering, it is an act of defiance

against those who bring misery on

this planet, and what is a more perfect

example than an artist striving for perfection

where misery abounds.

In her exhibit on SDN titled Mourning

Kobané, Paris-based Iranian photographer

Maryam Ashrafi made this stunning

photograph of a young woman who,

along with members of YPJ (Women’s

Protection Units), “mourn during the

ceremony for Ageri, their fellow fighter,

who was killed during clashes with

Islamic State in Eastern frontline of

Kobané, Syria.” This photograph is not

of dead comrades or headless victims of

the despicable Islamic State. Rather it is

a stunning portrait shot not in a studio

with lights and assistants but rather

under challenging conditions during a

funeral wrought with intense emotions

and under constant fear of attack. The

young woman’s eyes, her gaze, her colorful

scarf and military fatigues, the soft

blue sky and horizon line so thoughtfully

placed, the woman on the left side of the

frame, possibly injured in battle, all create

a stunning work of art. How can one

not be moved by this? What happened?

Who are the YPJ (a heroic story unto

itself)? The photo is a weapon against

the horrors of the Islamic State. Its secondary

target is all who say that women

cannot engage and triumph in battle.

The power of this beautiful photo of a

Kurdish warrior I hope has launched a

thousand people to join her struggle to

save the Kurdish and other residents of

Kobané from ISIS. (nb. Sarina, the subject

of this photo, was martyred in battle

in the fall of 2018.)

Kurdish photographer Younes

Mohammad has extensively photographed

the wars and carnage in Iraq

Photo by Younes Mohammad. Mosul, Iraq: A man from

the Ghadesiya neighborhood was wounded during the battle

for Mosul by a suicide ISIS car bomb. He was rescued and

treated by medics of the Iraqi army in a field clinic.

and Syria. His portfolio includes some

very graphic images of bodily destruction

caused by war. But it is not the gore

that makes him a great photographer,

rather it is his photographs of the passion,

tenacity, and emotional depths of

his subjects amidst such horrible conditions

that have lasting value. His photograph

in his SDN exhibit on the battle

for Mosul, In Less than an Hour, of a

man from the Ghadesiya neighborhood

wounded during the battle for Mosul by

a suicide ISIS car bomb, is a stunning

example of a great photo made during

battle. The young man (by the caption

we assume he survives) has the look of

calmness while medics are rushing into

action. The photograph makes interesting

use of color (blue latex gloves, blue

jacket liner, and contrasting yellow plastic

stretcher) and strong linear elements

of the medics’ arms and the aluminum

frame of the gurney, all pointing toward

the central subject—the wounded soldier

who lays calm amid chaos. Younes reassures

us that although chaos reigns on

the battlefield, it has not destroyed our

soul as a species.

Turning to other parts of the world

and other issues, the SDN website has

Not a subscriber? Click here to receive the print version of ZEKE.

ZEKE FALL 2019/ 41

Photo by David Verberckt. from his SDN exhibit, Waiting for the Rain. One of the 4,500 displaced persons living near

the capital of Somaliland. Tens of thousands of pastoralists have lost all their livestock during the past drought and became

fully dependent on humanitarian aid for their subsistence. Most have abandoned their nomadic way of life and settled into

makeshift camps where aid and food can reach them.

hundreds of exhibits of stunning photographs

that focus our attention on

challenging situations. David Verberckt

is a Belgium photographer whose interest

is to document and work closely with

people whose destinies are marred by

social and political injustices. His recent

exhibit on SDN, Waiting for Rain, is

about climate refugees from Somaliland

who have lost their livestock due to a

drought made worse by a changing

climate. The opening photo is one of

the 4,500 displaced persons living near

the capital of Somaliland, now fully

dependent on humanitarian aid for their

subsistence. Most have abandoned their

nomadic way of life and have settled

in makeshift camps where aid and

food can reach them. This is a powerful

frontal portrait of a woman looking

intensely in our eyes. There is no question

of her disappointment in her current

situation as a refugee. But she is not a

faceless victim. She is wearing a beautiful

turquoise scarf and earth-colored

head covering. Her expression is not of

pathos but rather the expression we may

see in our own mothers the world over,

an expression of familiarity, compassion,

and fate. Verberckt uses the simple but

effective visual tool of selective focus—

the woman’s face is in sharp focus while

the background recedes into blur. This

may be a textbook example of how to

make a good portrait, but combined

with the colors, the intense lighting

across the woman’s face, how her head

and shoulders so perfectly fill the frame,

the sweep and rhythms of shadows starting

in the lower left and ending with her

black headband, the bokeh (Google the

term if you are unfamiliar with it) of the

shadows, makes this a lasting comment

on how the human species has defiled

our planet yet how we resist by being

responsible stewards and take decisive

action to remedy the situation. It is also

a statement on how the human soul

(both the subject’s and Verberckt’s) lives,

struggles, and perseveres.

Meaning Can Heal

Humanity does not always win. In some

cases, the horrors are so great, the

perpetrators so debased, the victims so

broken, that it is not clear if the species

will survive. There are no comforting

photographs from the Holocaust, from

Rwanda, nor from other existential genocides

in history. During the Holocaust,

there was much art created by inmates

of concentration camps, but it doesn’t

reassure us. Rather the images makes us

question if God, or the human species

as we know it, can continue to exist

following the Holocaust? Viktor Frankl,

an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist

who lost his whole family during the

Nazis’ attempt to exterminate the Jews,

counseled his fellow prisoners with a

philosophy that argued that striving

for meaning, not pleasure nor power,

is what keeps us alive. Frankl was not

an artist, but in the throes of the worst

horrors faced by humanity, he invoked

the only thing left to camp prisoners facing

a near-certain death—a belief that

finding meaning can heal. Is that not

what artists the world over, and certainly

photographers, are always striving to

insist on? That amidst chaos, meaning

can prevail.

I can go on with equally as powerful

photographs on SDN and elsewhere

addressing equally as critical global

situations, but the question remains

“so what?” What effect does David

Verberckt’s photos have on either global

climate change or the specific situation

of displaced pastoralists in Somaliland?

What effect does Maryam Ashrafi’s

photos from Kurdistan have on defeating

ISIS? I hope their photos appear in venues

with greater readership than either

SDN or ZEKE magazine. I hope people

will see these images and perhaps gain

greater insight and empathy for victims

of climate change or ISIS, and perhaps

be driven to action. But I also believe

that David Verberckt, Maryam Ashrafi,

Younes Mohammad, and tens of thousands

of photographers the world over

who have made great personal sacrifices

and have worked tirelessly to make

great photos, have themselves taken a

stand against complacency because

they have been anything but complacent.

They, as any artist does, make

us confront a basic fact that amid so

much suffering in the world, there is also

beauty. But beauty is not separate from

suffering. On the contrary, perfection

and beauty gives us hope that things

can be different and better, that we can

rally, we are an intelligent species, and

we can rise from the ashes to heal.

42 / ZEKE FALL 2019



Carol Allen-Storey, based in the UK, is

an award-winning documentary photographer

chronicling humanitarian and social

issues. In 2009, Storey was appointed as a

UNICEF ambassador for photography. She

sits on the boards of the AOP (Association

of Photographers), and the BPPA (British

Professional Press Association). She is a

founding member of the World Photography

Academy for the SONY Award. Some of her

clients include: UNICEF, Save The Children,

The Elton John AIDS Foundation, WWF,

International Alert, Comic Relief, Royal British

Legion, The Global Fund for Children.

Toby Binder was born in Germany and studied

at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and

Design. He focuses his photography on social,

environmental and political topics. Now based

in Argentina and Germany, he works on projects

on post-war and crisis situations as well as

the daily life of people. He has been awarded

internationally the Nannen-Preis in 2017, the

Sony World Photo Awards in 2017 and 2019,

and the Philip-Jones-Griffiths-Award in 2018.

The same year he received an Honorable

Mention at the UNICEF Photo of the Year.

Rory Doyle is based in Cleveland,

Mississippi. Born and raised in Maine, he

moved to the South in 2009 and has remained

committed to the region ever since. His work

often highlights unique Southern subcultures

commonly overlooked. Doyle is a 2018

Mississippi Visual Artist Fellow through the

Mississippi Arts Commission and National

Endowment for the Arts for “Delta Hill Riders.”

He won the 16th Annual Smithsonian Photo

Contest for the project in 2019 and the

Southern Prize from South Arts organization. He

was also recognized for the project by winning

the 2019 Zeiss Photography Award, and the

photojournalism category at the 2018 Eye Em

Awards in Berlin, Germany.

Sean Gallagher is a British photographer

and filmmaker now based in Asia. His work

focuses on highlighting environmental issues

in the Asia-Pacific region. With a degree in

zoology, his background in science has led

to communicating ecological issues through

visual storytelling. He is a 7-time recipient of

the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting travel

grant and his images are represented by the

National Geographic Image Collection. He is a

Fellow of the UK Royal Geographical Society,

the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Science Journalism Program and the Resilience

Journalism Fellowship at the Craig Newmark

Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

Lauren Owens Lambert is a photojournalist

based in the Boston area focusing on

documenting the human aspect of conservation,

climate change, and ocean science. She

is an International League of Conservation

Photographer - Emerging League and a contributing

photographer with Everyday Extinction

and a Blue Earth Alliance project photographer.

She has curated and shown in exhibitions at

Photoville and has presented work at the UN on

the importance of visual storytelling under the

Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life Below


Michael O. Snyder is a photographer and

filmmaker whose work sits at the intersection

of environmental sustainability and social

justice. He has spent the past 15 years working

on projects in the Amazon, the Arctic, the

Himalaya, Asia, East Africa, and his home in

rural Appalachia. His work features intimate

portraiture of cultures affected by environmental

issues, with a focus on empowerment and

community-driven solutions.


Barbara Ayotte has served as a senior

strategic communications strategist, writer

and activist for leading global health, human

rights and public media nonprofit organizations,

including the Nobel Peace Prize- winning

Physicians for Human Rights and International

Campaign to Ban Landmines. Barbara is SDN’s

Communications Director and is Editor of ZEKE


Alessandra Bergamin is an Australian

freelance journalist whose work focuses on

immigration, public health, and environmental

justice. She has been published in National

Geographic, The New Yorker, Harper’s, and

Literary Hub, among others. She also produces

short documentaries and often photographs her

stories. She is a 2019 UC Berkeley Food and

Farming Fellow.

Caterina Clerici is an Italian freelance

journalist and producer based in New York. She

was awarded three Innovation in Development

Reporting Grants from the European Journalism

Centre for her multimedia work in Haiti, Ghana

and Rwanda, published in TIME, The Guardian,

Al Jazeera English and Marie Claire, among

others. She worked as a freelance photo editor

and producer for VR at TIME, and as an executive

video producer at Blink.la.

Tammy Danan is a freelance storyteller

based in the Philippines. While a generalist,

she aims to better focus on social issues and

humanitarian crises, with a stress on the plight

of the Filipino indigenous people. In constant

collaboration with photographers, her words

have appeared in Al Jazeera, VICE, Audubon.

org, OZY and others.

Lori Grinker is a photographer, filmmaker,

artist, and educator. Author of Afterwar;

Veterans from a World in Conflict; co-author,

The Invisible Thread; Mike Tyson; and Six

Days From Forty (in progress). Her work is

represented by the Nailya Alexander Gallery

in NYC, and is in many private and public

collections including the ICP; Museum of Fine

Arts, Houston; and the Museum of Modern

Art. Awards include a New York Foundation

for the Arts Grant; W. Eugene Smith Memorial

Fellowship; Ernst Hass Grant; Open Society

Community Engagement Grant; and the World

Press Foundation. She is an Ochberg Fellow of

the Dart Center on Journalism and Trauma, and

a senior member of Contact Press Images.

Zeb Larson is a writer and researcher based

in Columbus, OH. He recently finished a PhD

in History at Ohio State University. His research

deals with the global anti-apartheid movement,

and he has begun working on adapting his dissertation

into a book.

Glenn Ruga is the Executive Editor of ZEKE

magazine and founder and director of the

Social Documentary Network (SDN). From

2010-2013, he was the Executive Director of

the Photographic Resource Center. From 1995-

2007 he was the Director, and then President,

of the Center for Balkan Development. Ruga is

also the owner and creative director of Visual

Communications, a graphic design firm located

in Concord, MA.

J. Sybylla Smith is an independent curator

with more than 25 solo or group exhibitions

featuring over 80 international photographers

exhibited in the US, Mexico, and South

America. An adjunct professor, guest lecturer,

and thesis advisor, Sybylla has worked with the

School of Visual Arts, the School of the Museum

of Fine Arts, Wellesley College, and Harvard


Frank Ward is a professor of visual art at

Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, MA. In

2016, Ward received a National Endowment

for the Humanities grant and a Mass Humanities

grant for his photography of Holyoke, MA. In

2012, he went to Central Asia as the Cultural

Envoy in Photography for the US Department

of State. In 2011, he was awarded an Artist

Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural

Council for his photography in the former Soviet

Union. He has also received support for his

work in the former Yugoslavia, Tibet and India.

He is represented by Photo Eye Gallery in Santa

Fe, NM.

ZEKE FALL 2019/ 43

44 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

Out of the Shadows

Shamed Teen Mothers in Rwanda

By Carol Allen-Storey

An epidemic of teen pregnancies is

permeating the population in Rwanda.

Vulnerable girls as young as 13

find themselves in this unwarranted

circumstance. Many as a result of

rape and others through ignorance of

engaging in sexual activities without protection,

nor any knowledge of the responsibility

of motherhood. The fathers run away. The

young mothers bring shame to the family, are

isolated and abandoned. These emotionally

damaged adolescents have assumed the awesome

responsibility of being mothers when

they are still children. The aim of this essay

is to give voice to these damaged girls and

attract wider support for them to live their lives

with dignity. Hope for Rwanda, a local charity,

is providing support through counselling,

legal aid and skills training.

“I was finishing my last year in school

and became pregnant. I was horrified,

I wanted to abort, as I would

be forced to leave school. My future

would be dim. After I could not raise

the fees for abortion, I felt my only

option was to commit suicide. My

friend told my mother of my situation

and she said; ‘Since I sinned once

by getting pregnant I should not sin

again’. After the baby was born I

initially felt a deep sense of loneliness,

but as I fell into my role I also learned

to be responsible and strong.”

Olive, 20. Daughter Giselle, 2.

Carol Allen-Storey, based in the UK, is an

award-winning photojournalist specializing in

chronicling complex humanitarian and social

issues. Her imagery illuminating people’s

dignity and quest for survival reflects the

unique trust and respect she engenders with

her subjects.

Storey’s work has been exhibited and

published extensively. Installations of her photography

appear in corporate headquarters

and commercial premises. In October 2009,

she was appointed a UNICEF ambassador for

photography. Her recent prize money for winning

gold in the Act of Kindness Award was

donated to a small AIDS charity in Uganda

because she believes it was morally responsible

to donate the money back to those most

in need.

Not a subscriber? Click here to receive the print version of ZEKE.

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 45

46 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

“I became pregnant when I was 15 in

a rush of passion with my boyfriend. I

then thought about the fate of my life, I

was not prepared for parenting, I lost

hope. I told my boyfriend, he said he

would support me, but soon after he

vanished. I returned to my studies with

the support of Hope for Rwanda, a

local charity that has taught me to be a

strong woman and built my confidence.

Recently I became a mentor to other

silly girls like me, who learn about the

perils of being fooled by men when

they request sexual favors and take

no responsibility. When I complete my

studies, my aim is to become a journalist

on radio and TV.”

Florence, 19. Brian William, 3

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 47

“When I was a 17, I dated a

man a lot older than me. Soon

after a short affair I fell pregnant.

When I confronted the father of

the child, he said he had no interest

in taking responsibility and knew

I couldn’t afford the DNA test to prove

his paternity. I wanted to commit suicide

because I couldn’t see a future. Now I

dream of being a journalist to give a

voice to girls like me that have brought

shame to their family and fall into depression

as they feel their lives have been crushed

by becoming pregnant and raising a child as

a single mother.”

Sandrine Murekatete, 19

Son, Jesse Johnson, 7 months

48 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

“I met my boyfriend in church, we got

close and ended up making love, it was

spontaneous. I missed my period and

suspected I was pregnant. At the clinic they

confirmed my status. I thought I only met

this guy a few weeks ago, now I find myself

pregnant. I didn’t even know who he is, how

could I have been so stupid? After a few

weeks when I told him, he asked me to marry

him and I said a big NO. We broke up and I

haven’t seen him since. I am a member of the

‘Hope for Rwanda’ program where I have the

opportunity of meeting other girls in exactly

my situation, a single mother who has had

to abandon their dreams. We gain strength

being together and supporting each other.”

Florette Ishimwe, 19

Son, La vie, 2

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 49

Neslathe breastfeeds her small daughter

Lenatha. “Becoming a mother was a

wake-up call, the added chores and

responsibilities being a mother; the work

is doubled, and exhaustion takes over.”


50 / ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019 2015

ZEKE APRIL FALL 2019/ 2015/ 51



by Caterina Clerici

Lekgetho Makola is the Head of Market

Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, South

Africa. He sits on the International Advisory

Committee to the Board of CatchLight, and

was on the Curatorial Advisory Committee

of the 2017 Bamako Encounters. Over the

past few years, he has been on the judging

panels for various national and international

photography and arts awards,

including World Press Photo 2019.

Caterina Clerici: How did you get into


Lekgetho Makola: My background is

fine arts, painting and sculpture but also

multimedia and the theory of photography.

I worked in museums in Durban, in

post-apartheid South Africa, from 1999,

supporting the collections and archival

units. I also worked as a photographer for

the museums, photographing the artworks

for preservation but also documenting

the events. I was also involved in curation.

Three years later I moved to Cape

Town where I started working as an

exhibition manager at the Robben Island

Museum. That’s where I began working

with photographic archives but also

documenting stories of people who had

been imprisoned on Robben Island since

the 1960s. So that’s when I started really

working with the medium to tell stories.

Later, I got awarded a Ford Foundation

scholarship to go to Howard University

in Washington, D.C. and do an MFA in

Film Studies. I chose that because there

is a lot more work done in film theory

about black filmmaking, especially in the

United States and South America. I think

in those ten years I established my interest

Patrick Selemani

in images, focusing on activism around

images, especially on the (African)

Continent and in the context of post-colonial

South Africa.

CC: What motivated your interest in


LM: Images are carriers of information, but

also more than any other artistic practice,

they reach a very wide audience and have

the potential to impact perceptions. Images

can become an integral part of education:

carrying historic memories, but also helping

people to think creatively or critically

from a younger age. They also help us

understand the context of our country, at a

time when we are trying to find ourselves

outside of the divisions of apartheid.

CC: How did you end up at Market Photo


LM: After completing my studies at

Howard University, I came to the Market

Photo Workshop (MPW) because I had a

very strong background in exhibitions, programming,

and curating. I joined MPW as

their Program and Projects Manager, overseeing

the curriculum and creating synergy

with the public programming side. When

my predecessor, John Fleetwood, resigned

four years ago I took over as the Head of

the school. For me, the school is one of

the most instrumental spaces for learning

and teaching photography, and one that

prioritizes its critical nature — photography

for social change and advocacy. It

aligned with what I’ve been doing since

I completed my undergraduate studies in

1994. I regard myself as an image activist:

I’m thinking about the process of making

an image, and the impact of that image in


CC: What are the themes at the core of the

School’s curriculum?

LM: We believe that all the students who

come into our space — usually 12 per educator

— come in with a particular perspective

or idea that inspires them, and our role

is not to overload them with information,

but to collaborate and bring the photographic

resources and know-how for them

to engage and better tell their own stories.

During apartheid, photography focused

on society and what was happening, documenting

our lives collectively. Post-apartheid,

people want to talk about themselves;

self-reflection, the relationship with the

environment they live in, their home, their

livelihoods, issues of identity: “I’m black in

post-apartheid South Africa. It’s a democracy.

How does it relate to me?” They use

images to explore those questions. One of

the biggest outcomes from our space has

been issues of representation on gender,

sexuality, and non-conforming communities,

and our space has now become what they

regard as a safe space. The focus is on

issues around transgender communities and

acceptance, how people from these communities

photograph themselves. Our public

programming begins to create a platform

for these kinds of discussions, using the

students to lead them.

CC: You mentioned images are also a tool

for social change; have you seen photographic

work translate into a change in the

public’s perception of these issues?

LM: Zanele Muholi (who joined MPW

in 2000) shocked the classrooms and

many male students. One of the issues she

became interested in while in class was

menstruation: she wanted to demystify this

fear males have, but also to confront patriarchy,

and through that process establish

her own definition of gender and how she

wants to be seen. Since then, not only has

she created platforms for people to talk

publicly about gender identity and sexuality,

but she runs schools that help people

from those communities find safe spaces—

not only in South Africa but all over the

world. That’s one example of something

that started in our program but ended up

being quite global. Lolo Veleko also had a

huge impact on young photographers. She

began teaching in the classroom about the

relationship between fashion, space, and

identity. We started seeing a lot of photographers

borrowing from her style, and

some of her work is now studied in relation

to urban development and how to think of

young people in urban settings.

CC: Have you seen any new trends in the

visual language that the new generations

of artists have chosen to express themselves?

LM: In the past three to four years, we’ve

begun to see a change in the texture of

images: people are much more experimental,

they’re going beyond just photographing

what’s happening around them; they’re

52 / ZEKE FALL 2019

CC: Are similar dynamics happening

across the African continent?

Lekgetho Makola viewing the Photo Incubator exhibition at the Photo Workshop Gallery.

Photo by Siphosihle Mkhwanazi.

beginning to author their work and stage

their images to tell a very particular story.

We still have a traditional documentary

photography practice, but overall we’re

seeing images going more toward fine arts.

People are redefining what an image is —

for example, introducing moving images,

because smartphone cameras or DSLRs

all have video functions. We see a lot of

experimentation, a beautiful mix of ideas,

still within the critical narrative space.

CC: The photo industry seems to be finally

diversifying. The more voices are let in, the

more the practice is questioned, and, with

it, who has the right to tell a story. Given

its roots, can there be photojournalism

without a Western filter?

LM: The practice of photography in the

continent is growing and people are

beginning to document themselves in their

own communities. A person who goes into

their township and knows the dynamics

of their home is able to photograph it in a

particular way, unlike for instance AFP or

Reuters photographers who parachute into

a village, photograph the story and leave.

We are hoping to host the 2019 World

Press Photo Awards here at the MPW, and

I was telling the people in Amsterdam that

it’s important for them to know there is this

reluctance to accept the World Press Photo

as the space that every year decides what

a good photograph is. It becomes difficult

for these juries to questions themselves

and their idea of photography, since

they already believe they are the leading

authorities in deciding what a good image

actually is.

There are many photographers from

outside Africa coming to the Continent

and photographing it, and their work gets

accepted to many festivals and biennales

in Europe, but it’s hard to find somebody

from the Continent, who photographs the

same issues, accepted in those spaces.

This is problematic. The question is:

what stories are being told, and for what

purpose? I think we are still living in a

residual colonial phase and it’s going to

take a bit to redefine the understanding

of photography, possibly through spaces

like ours, or others in Rwanda, Nigeria,

Ethiopia, Egypt. Currently, the challenge is

that what we teach in universities is based

on theories written from the perspective of

Europe, rather than of the continent or the

Global South.

CC: What can be done to diversify things

from within, in the Global North?

LM: I believe the answer can be in smaller

spaces where global partnerships can

happen more easily, grassroot-type of

places like the Bronx Documentary Center,

or smaller festivals where people can

interact with a crowd that thinks differently.

Any change that is going to happen

will be because of people who are in a

developmental stage right now, the new

generations. To begin to engage The New

York Times or National Geographic at this

stage won’t get us anywhere, because they

have the commercial obligations to keep

providing the sales they are providing to

their market. But there has to be focus on

online collaboration and curation of works

that can be shared and distributed widely

digitally. That’s one of the changes that can

have a much larger impact, because now

you don’t have to move physically from one

space to another.

LM: We’ve begun to share ideas across

the continent, using platforms such as

WhatsApp to engage but also to decide

on what type of programs to do. We have

the Centers of Learning for Photography in

Africa, and the main aim is for us across

the continent to share what are we doing,

what are the challenges we are facing,

and how do we support each other. Some

of us are quite long-running independent

institutions, like the MPW, compared to the

new photographic space in Kigali, which

just started a year ago.

We can share some of the successful

ways to find grants, how to do your balance

sheets, ensure that your photographic

hub runs and bring some type of infrastructure.

That is the basis of creating a healthy

photographic community.

We do understand that the dynamics

across the continent are different.

For example, at the Center of Learning

for Photography in Sudan, they have

challenges photographing in their own

communities because of censorship around

the practice, which is different if compared

to Nigeria, where they’re free, or to us

in South Africa, where photography is a

commodity and people can actually make

a living out of the practice. In Sudan it’s a

more conscious decision you take going

into the practice. There’s also the Center

in Egypt, where the online space and the

use of images actually created the revolution.

These are beautiful dynamics in the

Continent that continually inspire us to think

collaboratively around the practice.

CC: What are some of the emerging challenges?

LM: We need to begin to talk about

diversity within the Continent. It’s been

a male-dominated practice and it still is.

It’s still dangerous and hard for women

photographers to navigate the space to

photograph by themselves freely, because

of the violent nature of our spaces. These

are conversations that are continual, and

also have an impact on the type and style

of photography that is produced.

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ZEKE FALL 2019/ 53




Photographs by Patrick Brown,

text by Jason Motlagh and

Matthew Smith

FotoEvidence Press, 2019

208 pages | $60

In August 2017,

Myanmar’s army

attacked hundreds

of thousands

of ethnic Rohingya

Muslims in northern

Rakhine State,

killing civilians,

raping women and

burning villages. Hundreds of thousands

fled across the Naf River to neighboring

Bangladesh. The violence against the

Rohingya had been percolating since

the 1970s in one of the longest planned

genocides in human history.

After the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides

of the 1990s, the world proclaimed

“never again.” Once again, genocide has

been perpetrated on civilians, but this time

there has been no Truth and Reconciliation

Commission nor International Criminal

Court prosecutions. None of the perpetrators

have been held accountable. The

Rohingya lost their citizenship in Myanmar

and have lived in protracted statelessness

and displacement, living in internment

camps in Myanmar or sprawling camp settlements

across the border in Cox’s Bazar

in Bangladesh, denser than Manhattan.

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu

Kyi’s administration oversaw the genocide

and has done nothing to help the survivors.

But this doesn’t mean that the Rohingya

don’t have a voice.

Photographer Patrick Brown was living

in Thailand in 2017 and was able to

immediately travel to Bangladesh as the

first survivors arrived there. This book is a

powerful account of what he saw, serving

as important evidence and required reading

for policymakers who have turned a

blind eye to this war crime.

“Genocide is about the survivors—the

living. The survivors in these pages bear

witness to the horror ..they are a testament

of the enduring will to live and the

resilience of life” says Matthew Smith,

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of

Fortify Rights, in a moving opening essay.

Many of the photographs in No Place

on Earth are dark—both in tone and in

subject matter. As one survivor, Nazmal

Islam said “we don’t have any light in

our life, everything is dark.” The opening

pages depict ominous and thick monsoon

clouds over dark seas. These are followed

by spreads of buried shrouds, women in

veils, brightly colored parasols against

the night sky, candlelight gatherings in the

camps and moonlight shadows. Despite

the grimness, Patrick’s photos still manage

to find beauty. (One criticism: the captions

carrying vital background information

come pages after the photographs, causing

the reader to have to flip back and

forth to get the context.)

Telling the stark truth of the Rohingya

survivors today, Brown includes devastating

children’s drawings of the violence,

blood, fires, and helicopters flying over

their villages. Veteran human rights

investigator, Peter Bouckhaert, writes how

the children will forever be afflicted by the

severity of their trauma. “We confront the

depths of human depravity towards fellow

human beings. What these children have

witnessed will leave them forever haunted.

But it should haunt us as well.”

Then, there are the riveting testimonies

and stories of survivors that each read

like a thriller, accompanied by Brown’s

stunning portraits. Rajuma Begum from

the village of Tula Toli recounts how she

was separated from her husband (later

reunited), her son thrown into a fire, how

she was raped, but managed to escape.

These harrowing and very detailed

accounts were collected by Jason Motlagh,

writer and director at Blackbeard Media.

The darkness lifts a bit and the images

turn to skies awash with beautiful sunsets.

A peaceful portrait of a baby resting on his

father’s chest as they recline in the camp.

Children play on a makeshift ferris wheel

celebrating Eid after Ramadan.

Unexpectedly, Brown includes full-page

portraits of machetes, sickles, axes, and

hoes--the handmade tools of the Rohingya

that were used to farm their lands and harvest

their gardens that were taken from them

by the military and wielded against them as

weapons of war. Today, these tools resume

their original purpose: helping clear trees,

build bamboo shacks, till small vegetable

plots and rice paddies and bury the dead.

Returning to Myanmar is not an option

for Rohingya unless they renounce their ethnicity.

As one survivor says, “We have no

place on earth where we can find peace.”

But Brown says, “Photography forces

a confrontation, a reckoning by putting a

face to the cruelty. These were witnesses

and they live on.” It is also an attempt to

show that the oppressors haven’t won.

—Barbara Ayotte

54 / ZEKE FALL 2019



By Martin Toft

Dewi Lewis, 2018

200 pages | £35.00

“New Zealand’s Whanganui River

granted legal status as a person

after 170-year battle.”

This extraordinary headline was

published in ABC Australia online,

March 2017. This is the history at

the root of photographer Martin Toft’s

unique book, Te Ahi Ka – : The Fires of


According to Martin Toft, the

Whanganui River has been “a source of

material and spiritual sustenance” of the

Ma – ori and is the first body of water in the

world to be recognized as a living being.

The Ma – ori of New Zealand signed a treaty

in 1840 in order to protect their rights when

the British Crown and its overseas companies

began to colonize the region in the

mid-nineteenth century. However, through

misinterpretation of language (and what

I will assume was greed) the treaty was

not honored as understood by the tribes of

Whanganui. The Ma – ori look to this river,

which flows from the mountains of central

North Island, New Zealand to the Tasman

Sea, as their ancestor, their lifeblood.

While it is not a well-known story, it is not a

surprising one as it mirrors much of native

peoples’ stories throughout periods of colonization,

and the abuse and struggles that

still exist for them today, around the world.

Photo books are for me akin to small

films or portable exhibitions that you hold

in your hand, spend time with at your

leisure, while exploring new worlds, histories

and ideas as you journey through the

pages. Leafing back and forth, making discoveries

while seeing through the author’s

eyes, and often with another layer of

storytelling that comes through the design,

and then another with text and interviews.

That is my experience of Te Ahi Ka – .

In 1996, Toft, then an amateur photographer,

spent six months in King Country,

New Zealand which lies between the middle

and upper region of the Whanganui

River. He learned of their struggle and

work towards reversing the colonization of

their people and returning to their ancestral

land. Twenty years later, Toft returned to

explore more of the physical and metaphysical

relationship the Ma – ori have to the

river, and his own spiritual awakening. The

book takes its narrative from the agreement

known as the “Whanganui River Deed of

Settlement.” The Ma – ori have fought for

this recognition for so long, for the need to

bring the health and wellbeing of the river,

and consequently the people, back to its

natural flow. This book, a true collaboration,

has found a way to tell that story

through these photographs and text.

The book is a collaboration between the

designers, interpreters, and local people

who share their stories in interviews and

conversations with each other. It is through

their conversations that we learn about

their struggles, their relationship to the

river, and their hopes for the future.

The book concept is by Toft and Ania

Natecka-Milaj of Tapir Book Design. The

editing and sequencing are done by Rafat

Milach. The text is by Toft. There are two

different covers—a green cloth (female

cover) and orange cloth (male cover)—

each with their own design motif. No

explanation is given about the symbolism

of these colors or the design. At the back

of the book is what looks like a postcard

with a group portrait in front of a meeting

house; upon opening this foldout you find

several photographs of people in front of

the building and on the back—scroll-like—

is a dictionary with translations of Ma – ori

words and phrases.

The book begins with pages of black

and white images of the forest and river

made by Toft during his six-month trip in

1996, followed by a foldout page with

a color image hidden on the inside from

his more recent work. The foldout page

is sandwiched with another and between

them are pages of interviews followed by

poetry. The book flows like this throughout,

like a river snaking around its terrain

revealing the lifeblood of the river and its

peoples, their history and culture.

The color images from his recent trip

are a mix of portraits, still lifes, landscapes,

historic images and scenes of contemporary

life. The book ends with text of the 2017

Crown’s Apology as acknowledgement of

the integral relationship of the river to the

people who live along its flow. I wish there

was a bit more explanation to help guide

us through the chapters. Although the book

itself — the object — is a treasure to hold

and what it brings us is of great import.

Photography books have been one of

my passions since I was a college student

(long ago). Today, there is no shortage of

wonderful books of all genres, subject matter

and prices. Many of these books have

the ability to raise awareness and bring

change. This particular history has been

resolved and my hope is that this wonderful

book can influence others to recognize

what was taken from the natives of their

lands and help restore the rights of other (if

not all) native peoples.

—Lori Grinker

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ZEKE FALL 2019/ 55


By Donna Ferrato

powerHouse Books, 2019

172 pages | $45.00

International photojournalist Donna

Ferrato has spent her career documenting

domestic terror. Her book

and series, Living With the Enemy

is seminal. Her image, Bengt Hits

Elisabeth,1982, taken while on assignment

for Playboy Japan, was recognized

by TIME magazine as one of the

100 Most Influential Pictures of All Time.

Taken in their New Jersey suburban

home it captures the brutal beating of a

wife by her husband in response to what

he reports was her disobedience. This

experience changed Ferrato’s life and

began her crusade to reveal the truth

of domestic violence for what it is —a

war of terror waged against women,


Holy, Ferrato’s fourth book, is a retrospective

of her photographic documentation

of violence against women. Startling

black and white images span decades and

continents. The raw impact of Ferrato’s

witness sears. Her images’ sheer ferocity

brands the viewer while validating the

reality of the victim. The invisible shields of

denial and secrecy are stripped from the

perpetrator. Ferrato uncovers and chronicles

myriad forms of male abuse, from the

familial to the societal.

Complied as a family photo album,

Holy, chronicles moments of viciousness

and abuses of power. Each image is cloyingly

framed by white scalloped edges and

fabric bric-a-brac, a nostalgic nod to the

innocence of scrapbooks, holders of wishes,

dreams and cherished moments. Rough

hewn black marker outlines each photo with

handwritten text scrawled below.

Under a portrait taken of Ferrato’s

56 / ZEKE FALL 2019

parents in Virginia in 1994, she writes

in bold script; Road Trip. Lies Kill Love.

Mom Always Gave Him Her Best. Gutwrenching,

it freezes the cumulative emotions

carved into her mother’s distressed

face and the crisp, in-control authority

of her map-holding father barely able

to contain his disdain. She speaks in an

interview of the years of manipulation and

psychological abuse her father perpetuated

on her mother. He was bi-polar, unfaithful,

and wore the family down emotionally.

A self-portrait taken in an Ohio bathroom

when she was freshly divorced at 28

was a recent discovery by Ferrato. Shot

on film, she stands with bare shoulders

and dyed hair swept back in her attempt

to look older and taken more seriously.

Decades later she finds one frame with

black streaks seemingly exploding out of

her head, a graphic signifying an expulsion

of all she has seen and excavated.

Scribbled across this image she writes:

”Bolts of rage altered by age — postmenopausal

power.” In the book, this image is

surrounded by furious script listing the vernacular

of hate directed at women: Crone,

Dyke, Slut, Twat, Cunt, Pussy, Bitch, Tramp,

Man Hater, Ghost, Babykiller, Ho, Whore,

Mother of God, Punta, Virgin, Prude,

Feminist, 2nd Sex, Old Maid, Butch, Hag

In the time it takes to read this review,

over 60 women will have made a call into

a domestic violence hotline in the United

States. Femicide is the killing of women

by men because they are female, a term

published by author Diana E. H. Russell

at the International Tribunal on Crimes

Against Women in 1976. A majority

of these deaths are by gunshot and not

coincidentally are within states with the

least restrictive gun laws. Pregnancy is a

leading contributing risk factor to violence

against women in the US. Intentional sexbased

hate crime kills 50,000 woman a

year, globally.

Women’s reproductive rights are currently

under sustained attack in the United

States. The ability to receive pregnancy

prevention services and/or to terminate

a pregnancy is being curtailed on a state

level. A goal of conservative legislators

is to repeal the landmark Supreme Court

decision, Roe vs. Wade, which presently

provides a wide-range of health care

services for the 23 million women of

reproductive age in the US. Consistently,

women have had to defend their choices

of how to use their bodies. A bedrock foundation

of patriarchy is the historic societal

expectation (read obligation) for all

women to bear children. Author Rebecca

Solnit challenges this restrictive definition

of womanhood in her book, The Mother

of All Questions, when she spotlights this

implicit mandate put upon the female

gender; “Woman, who must marry, must

breed, must let men in and babies out, like

some elevator for the species…Brains are

individual phenomena producing wildly

varying products: uteruses bring forth one

kind of creation.”

Donna Ferrato has changed the universal

landscape for all victims of domestic

violence, the millions of women, men and

children affected on a daily basis. The state

of Massachusetts claimed intimate-partner

violence as a public health emergency

in 2008, noting it’s correlation to, and

creation of, a complex matrix of related

social, psychological and medical crises.

Mental health, incarceration, family and

children services buckle under the staggering

numbers of people affected by domestic

violence. Ferrato established the Domestic

Abuse Project in 1979 with a mission to

eradicate domestic violence and create

communities where families experience

healthy, safe and equal relationships. In

2014 she launched a campaign for women

who left abusers called, I Am Unbeatable.

Two bodies of work from Holy are

currently being exhibited as part of Photo

Espana. At seventy years of age, Ferrato is

as driven to create positive societal change

today as when she began forty years ago.

She has heard and amplified the collective

voices of women internationally. She

photographs the contemporary reality of

women demanding equal representation

in, and protection by, governmental law

in multiple countries. Author Ursula K. Le

Guin succinctly states the power of such

fundamental change. “We are volcanoes.

When we women offer our experience as

our truth, all the maps change. There are

new mountains.” Ferrato’s dedication to

create a true visual narrative contributed

to our current explosion which is altering

our communal landscape. Ferrato knew

what was real all along—woman, on her

own is sacred and wholly. Individually and

collectively we are unbeatable.

—J. Sybylla Smith



By Louie Palu

Essay by Alison Nordström


72 pages | $25.00

Often the

goal of


a book review is

to comment on

the contents of a

book. The book

as an object is

invisible — a

container for the

contents, such as a shoebox holding a

pair of ruby slippers. Louie Palu turns

this on its head with A Field Guide to

Asbestos. This is certainly not a book

of Palu’s photographs, although his

photos are used in the book. A Field

Guide to Asbestos is performance art. It

nominally takes the form of a field guide

where we might expect to see images of

plants and insects, but instead he pours

in content of all types relating to the

destructive consequences to the soft tissues

of the human body when exposed

to the silicate asbestos, most often used

in building materials as a shield for fire,

and most tragically resulting in slow

death as a result of long-term exposure.

Palu is no longer in his comfort zone

here. In the past, he has made a career of

making extraordinary images of mine workers

and soldiers to tell complex stories about

the heroic and dangerous work that people

must do to survive. Now he has entered the

world of conceptual art, creating an object,

a book, to tell a story of asbestos, no less

dangerous and no less destructive than war

or deep underground mining.

For most of the history of photography,

a photo book began with the rectangular

photograph that would impart meaning by

a combination of its representational and

formal qualities. The representational qualities

might be the face of a US Marine in

Afghanistan or a miner in Quebec—both

subjects of Louie Palu’s earlier work. The

formal qualities might be contrast, use of

color (or not), scale, perspective, focus—all

of which Palu has shown mastery of with

his previous work.

Enter the photo book of today. Now, the

rather limited variables available to a photographer

are exponentially expanded by

the choices available to a book designer-

-sequence, typography, paper stock, binding,

concept, etc. While in the past, these

elements were subservient to the content,

today they are the content.

The first impression of A Field Guide

to Asbestos is the size and materials. It

is small—it can almost fit in the palm of

one’s hand. The cover is stiff paper without

a photo, as if it was an industrial field

manual. The book begins with a snapshot,

clearly not by Palu, taken in 1952 of youthful

Harold and Blayne Kinart at their home

in Ontario, Canada. Turning the page,

the next photo is of a skeletal Blayne, 52

years later having pain medication patches

applied on his back by his wife Sandy.

(Blayne died in 2004 of mesothelioma

from exposure to asbestos — the process of

which Palu powerfully documents.)

On page 3 begins the most traditional

element of a photo book — the essay. In

this case it is a smart and informative one

by Alison Nordström who does a brilliant

job dissecting the tragedy of asbestos in

recent human history and critiquing the

book as an object.

The book progresses with photos by Palu

of people who have been exposed to, and

in many cases devastated by asbestos in

Canada, the US, and in India; remarkable

images of asbestos mining waste; interviews

with experts on asbestos; historical

photos of asbestos in use; an essay by the

photographer; and closes with a series of

color snapshots (not by Palu) of people who

eventually died from exposure to asbestos.

The closing sentence of Palu’s essay, the

ZEKE FALL 2019/ 57

crux of his argument, is “We aren’t talking

about a faceless disease or an industrial

material—we’re talking about human lives.”

The question I am left with: Does

this book bring more to our understanding

of asbestos and of its victims than a

traditionally-bound photo book with large

photos by the photographer, an essay by a

renowned expert, and a statement by the


I think not. I think of another book that

has explored disease of the human body

-— Nick Nixon’s People with Aids (David

R. Godine, 1991) — because in both

cases the subjects are mostly men at late

stages of their lives with loved ones nearby.

Nixon plays no tricks with his book. He is

confident that the stuff within his rectangles

are what matters and that he is a virtuoso

in his compositions. Nixon also has no

qualms understanding that his images are

less important than the people he photographs,

and that the disease is bigger than

both. Palu’s endpoint is the same, but in

A Field Guide to Asbestos, he display less

confidence that his photographs will get

us there. Instead he explores other visual

devices, goes into tangents, and leaves us

with something that has the questionable

authority of a pamphlet, or in this case, a

field guide.

This is not to say the book design is not

important. But as the margins are pushed,

the risks are increased. Few photo books

today are as traditional as Nick Nixon’s

People with Aids, but most skew closer to

thoughtful use of traditional book design

elements of size, scale, paper stock, and

typography. In Palu’s case, he reaches by

re-inventing the concept. This isn’t a book,

it is a field guide. But where are the Jackin-the-Pulpits

and Ruby Throated Sparrows?

There is only one technical illustration

showing how lungs are affected by asbestos

particles credited to Stanford School of

Medicine, and one canned definition of the

type you might find in a field guide titled

“Asbestos-Related Diseases” by the Centers

for Disease Control.

I commend Palu for experimenting with

the boundaries of the photo book and

exploring how to make a photograph more

meaningful and politically affective than

what it usually can do. I am just at a loss

because I know what a good photographer

he is I and I have more faith in the

power of those rectangles than he allows

us with this book.

—Glenn Ruga


Photographs by Chloe Dewe

Mathews, Essays by Morad

Montazami, Sean O’Hagan, and

Arnold van Bruggen

Co-published by Aperture and Peabody

Museum Press, 2018

216 pages | $65

In Caspian:

The Elements,

British photographer

Chloe Dewe

Mathews offers her

five-year encounter

with the five countries

bordering the

Caspian Sea: Iran,

Russia, Azerbaijan,

Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. She

selects her pictures based on the elements:

fire, earth, air, and water. The first

chapter in this systematic approach is

titled “Oil Gas Fire.” Her story begins in

the sanatoriums of Naftalan, Azerbaijan

where individuals are seen resting in tubs

filled with “miracle oil.” Azeris believe

that soaking in this thick crude oil is

medicinal. The abundance of black crude

oil gives the countries of this region their

geopolitical and economic heft.

Mathews moves on from crude oil

therapy to witness Zoroastrian fire rituals in

Iran. Her continuing revelation of Caspian

life and culture loses some momentum

when she focuses on oil production in

Azerbaijan, the industrial component of

her natural elements theme. These images

are not as beguiling as jumping through

fire, yet they express her articulate clarity

of vision. The photographer regains her

storytelling momentum later in the chapter

when she memorably documents Uzbek

cemetery workers in Kazakhstan building

mausoleums for the rich and dying.

In the second chapter, “Rock Salt

Uranium,” she explores underground

mosques in Kazakhstan, travels with

shamans to sacred sites in Azerbaijan and

visits sulfur and salt lakes in Turkmenistan

and Russia respectively. The most incredible

pictures are of radioactive hot springs in

Ramsar, Iran. Mathews could have ended

the book here, where radioactive spas seem

to pulsate on the page, but she has yet to

portray the final element of her story.

“Water,” the closing chapter, is a

bucolic thank you to the Caspian Sea for

all it has revealed to her. The highlight of

this last chapter is her pictures of the Volga

River and Delta where Russians live and

play with a passion best observed when

they are swimming and fishing in icy holes

on great frozen expanses.

Chloe Dewe Mathews’ one hundred

plus visual studies of beauty and grace

amount to a substantial achievement.

Caspian also includes three insightful

essays starting with Sean O’Hagan’s commentary,

which was recently excerpted

in The New Yorker. O’Hagan talks about

Mathews’ “metaphorical documentary

photography” stimulating his childhood

memories. This is a result that many

photographers aspire to. Mathews succeeds

through her desire to search out the

metaphysical as well as the physical in her

Caspian world.

—Frank Ward

58 / ZEKE FALL 2019



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@LeicaCameraUSA | #LeicaCameraUSA

ZEKE FALL 2019/ 59





Paula Bronstein

Elderly Lives from a

Frozen Conflict:

Ukraine’s War

Paula Bronstein’s images tell a

story about the effects of war in

Ukraine on the fragile elderly

who are isolated, vulnerable

and whose lives are frozen in

conflict trapped by a static war.

Ukraine has the highest proportion

of elderly affected by war

in the world. Nearly a third

of the country’s 3.4 million

people in need of assistance

are over 60 years of age. In

2014, when violence broke

out, many young people left the

region while the elderly stayed

behind just barely surviving.

The elderly are often reluctant

to leave their homes and

the last to flee from danger,

abandoned without resources

or family care. Their isolated

villages are dangerously close

to the fighting. The stress is

overwhelming for these pensioners,

listening to the daily

bursts of shooting and shelling

that often damage their homes.

They have exhausted resources

and many have lost access to

their pensions.

This project was made possible

with grant funding from

Getty Images, the Pulitzer

Center, and the Yunghi Kim


60 / ZEKE FALL 2019



Dimitri Beck

Chloe Coleman

Erin Clark

I am All of Creation

Russell Willier was hard

to miss with his bright red

jacket emblazoned with a

Sucker Creek Cree Elders

patch and his tall, muddy,

rubber boots. He greeted

his community with a smile,

his mustache stained yellow

from the cigarettes that

regularly dangled from his

mouth. Russell is known

across western Canada

and parts of the US as a

powerful Cree medicine

man, having been taught

by elders throughout the

provinces. But in recent

months, cancer had spread

throughout his body.

Doctors told the 68-year-old

that his chances of surviving

were slim, but Russell

continued to treat himself

with his traditional medicine

practices, which he

had learned from his greatgrandfather.

“He’s healed

thousands of people,”

Russell’s niece said through

tears. “He’s a medicine

man. But he can’t heal himself.”

Russell’s death was

a massive loss to the Cree

community as not many

traditional healers remain.

Russell’s story is one about

a powerful Cree healer

epitomized by a man, railing

against our common


Lou Jones

Olivia Kestin

Lekgetho Makola

Kathrin Mueller

Molly Roberts

Fiona Shields

ZEKE FALL 2019/ 61


Showkat Nanda

The Endless Wait

In November 2015, Hajra

Begum, a 74-year-old widow

from a small frontier hamlet in

Kashmir, received a fist-sized

bag of soil. It was from the

grave of her only son who

had disappeared in 1997.

Now, her 18-year-long wait

was over.

Most women are not as

‘lucky’ as Hajra.

In the past 28 years,the

humanitarian cost of the

conflict in Kashmir has been

huge. Aside from nearly

90,000 deaths, thousands

have gone missing after they

were picked up by the Indian


There are hundreds of

women who have been carrying

the burden of Kashmir’s

enforced disappearances.

Mothers and wives of missing

men spend their entire

life and all their possessions,

often in abject poverty,

searching for their loved ones

in jails, police stations, army

camps, and torture centers.

Human rights groups place

the number of missing at

8,000 and in recent years

have found nearly 2,700

unmarked graves. Most

families have never found

their loved ones, so even with

the occasional news of more

graves, they continue to hold

out hope.

62 / ZEKE FALL 2019

Angelos Tzortzinis

Trapped in Greece

“As a Greek, I have myself

lived through the unprecedented

and painful transformation

the country has

undergone, either as a result

of the economic crisis or the

refugee crisis. The process

has profoundly affected me

as well, as I am a part of this


“It brought to mind memories

from my childhood,

growing up in a poor neighborhood

of Athens, where

dozens of Iraqi refugees had

also set up their homes in the

1990s. They lived in cramped

basement apartments, often

five or six in one room, in

squalid conditions. We’d play

basketball in the streets and

do the usual things children

that age do, but I always

wondered how these people

ended up in Greece and

what they left behind — their

families, their lives.

“I have been photographing

the trapped refugees

in Greece for the past four

years. Since 2016, some

90,000 refugees and

migrants have been trapped

in Greece since countries

in the Balkans closed their


“I have been trying to

focus beyond the obvious

problem and help these welldeserved

stories be told.”

ZEKE FALL 2019/ 63

A Home for Global Documentary

Photo by Phillippe Geslin from his SDN exhibit, Water Gatherers, Tanzania.

SDN Website: A web portal for

documentary photographers to

create online galleries and make

them available to anyone with an

internet connection. Since 2008,

we have presented more than

3,300 documentary stories from

all parts of the world

ZEKE Magazine: This biannual

publication allows us to

present visual stories in print

form with in-depth writing about

the themes of the photography


Exhibits: SDN has presented

nine major exhibitions showcasing

the work of more than

100 photographers. We have

presented exhibits in the Bronx;

Brooklyn; Chicago; Boston; Portland,

Maine; and Milan.

Education: SDN has organized

and participated in panel discussions,

conferences, portfolio reviews,

and photography festivals

in New York, Houston, Berkeley,

Milan, Boston, Baku, and many

other cities around the world.

ZEKE Award for Documentary

Photography: A new

award program juried by a distinguished

panel of international

media professionals. Award winners

are exhibited at Photoville in

Brooklyn and featured in ZEKE.

Photo Fellowship: SDN has

partnered with Management

Sciences for Health to offer six

Photo Fellowships, providing a

$4,000 stipend to a photographer

to document MSH’s public

health work in Africa, Asia, and

South America.

Documentary Matters:

A place for Boston-area photographers

and the public to meet

with others involved with or

interested in documentary

photography and discuss

ongoing or completed projects.

Join us!







64 / ZEKE FALL 2019




Published by Social Documentary Network

Donors to SDN’s Tenth Anniversary


ZEKE magazine and SDN would like to thank the following

donors to our Tenth Anniversary Campaign. Support from private

individuals is essential for ZEKE and SDN to continue publishing.

If you would like to support the campaign, please visit


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2019 Vol. 5/No. 2

$10.00 US/$11.00 Canada

ZEKE is published by Social Documentary Network (SDN), an

organization promoting visual storytelling about global themes.

Started as a website in 2008, today SDN works with thousands

of photographers around the world to tell important stories

through the visual medium of photography and multimedia. Since

2008, SDN has featured more than 3,300 exhibits on its website

and has had gallery exhibitions in major cities around the world.

All the work featured in ZEKE first appeared on the SDN website,



Executive Editor: Glenn Ruga

Editor: Barbara Ayotte

Social Documentary


Founder & Director:

Glenn Ruga

Communications Director:

Barbara Ayotte

SDN Advisory Committee

Lori Grinker, New York, NY

Independent Photographer and


Catherine Karnow, San Francisco, CA

Independent Photographer and


Ed Kashi, Montclair, NJ

Member of VII photo agency

Photographer, Filmmaker, Educator

Eric Luden, Cambridge, MA


Digital Silver Imaging

Molly Roberts, Washington, DC

Senior Photography Editor,

National Geographic

Jeffrey D. Smith, New York NY

Director, Contact Press Images

ZEKE is published twice a year by

Social Documentary Network

Copyright © 2019

Social Documentary Network

ISSN 2381-1390

ZEKE does not accept unsolicited

submissions. To be considered for

publication in ZEKE, submit your

work to the SDN website either as

a standard exhibit or a submission

to a Call for Entries. Contributing

photographers can choose to pay

a fee for their work to be exhibited

on SDN for a year or they can

choose a free trial. Free trials have

the same opportunity to be published

in ZEKE as paid exhibits.

To Subscribe:


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See our prints of 2019 ZEKE Award Winners at Photoville Brooklyn

Photograph by Toby Binder from “Youth of Belfast.” Winner of ZEKE Award for Documentary Photography.

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