Leprosy in China
Though leprosy is an old disease that is 100% curable by medicines, there are over 600 leprosy villages in southern provinces of China housing over 40,000 ex-leprosy patients. In the villages, there are people who are disabled but they are not patients of leprosy anymore. When multi-drug therapy came to available in China in the 80’s, people started recovering from the disease. However, these people are still isolated in the remote areas because of the long-lasting discrimination against ex-leprosy patients.
In many villages, people do not have an access to clean water and electricity, and live in very difficult conditions. They earn between 0 to 50 dollars in a month from the government. The economic situation of these villages is similar to that of poor farm villages that are left behind and ignored in China’s recent economic growth. However, things are tough enough in these villages since the many villagers are disabled and their average age is over 60 year.
Recent economic growth has made city life richer, however, the rural areas are left behind particularly those who are weaker in those societies. It is said the villages will disappear in 10 to 20 years since the villagers are getting older and will pass away. This is a story of the daily life of ex-leprosy patients who exist in the shade of China’s recent economic boom
Freedom is a field stretched to horizon
On the other side of the fence
Freedom is being free
In the cage of denial
Freedom is a murmur
Where speech is forbidden
Freedom is a forsaken touch
For the untouchables
Freedom is knock on the door
Which is chained for eternity
Freedom is a solitary moment
Before a mistaken felony
Freedom is a torn piece of blue sky
From the prison window
Freedom is a beloved face
Lost in nothingness
Freedom is a the right to freewill
These condemned inmates will never know again
She was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a home-maker, a beloved wife but today she is only a prisoner behind bars serving a life sentence. She could have been many things but situation, time, circumstance and fate took all her rights to live free in society. Society finds them unfit because they cross the line of the law; they were not born to be criminals but time took them where they committed crimes… some killed step-children, some were found trafficking in-between borders, they were too many and we had too little time to know what crimes they were in for. We had ten minutes, the guards were rushing us, it’s unthinkable to let journalists roam inside a prison. But we have been there, my colleague and I; we saw faces up close, people who live among us, their faces hold the rumours of sisters, mothers…
They were some 21 women. Some with with children who were free but had nowhere to go. So they stayed with their mother in captivity. It was a rare chance for us; it was the opening of the new women’s prison on eight acres of land situated on the Western edge of Kashempur. We were allowed because we were women and in those ten minutes we learnt what we could not have learnt in a lifetime. Losing one’s freedom strips us of the right to live. It is the strangest feeling, a chilling feeling. Freedom denied is freedom lost in the cradle of the life.
Life is Elsewhere
Everything turns problematic, questionable, subject of analysis and doubt: Progress and Revolution. Youth. Motherhood. Even Man. And also Poetry…
Life is Elsewhere: Milan Kundera
It was in the summer of 1999 when my mother was diagnosed with an acute case of Paranoid Schizophrenia. I was 17 then. The doctors, in retrospect, had said that she had already started developing the symptoms many years prior to that. Symptoms that nobody had noticed. But it was the break up with my father that caused her condition to suddenly come alive and then deteriorate. Over the years, the walls of our home started to peel off, people had stopped coming to our home because my mother was too scared to let anybody in and all that remained were the traces of a life that no longer existed. Our initial years were spent hiding from the world. Her out of paranoia and mine out of embarrassment and anger at who she had become. But after all these years I’ve realized that my mother had never stopped loving me.
Today as I look back, I realize who I am, what I feel, see and think, is connected to my relationship with my mother in a way stronger than I know. And in this work, I hope I am able to connect the relationship that I’ve had with my mother with the rest of my life.
My Life is Elsewhere is a journal of my life, my family, my love, my friends, my travels, my sheer need to experience all that is about to disappear and so in a way I’m attempting to connect my own life with the world that I see with a hope to find my reality in it. Life is Elsewhere is a book of contradictions and of doubts and understandings and of laughter and forgetting in which I am trying to constantly question myself by simply documenting the broken fragments of my life which might seem completely disconnected to one another on their own. But I hope that in time I am able to piece together this wonderful jig saw puzzle called life. And this journey will perhaps lead to reconciliation with my life.
Seeing in the dark
His heart sees in the dark, like a white hare in the new snow, that the desire to be free and the desire to be unencumbered are not the same. From “Seeing in the Dark”, Shevaun Cooley The writer W.G. Sebald once said of the German people that they were “always looking and looking away at the same time”.
He could have been talking about any of us. There is of course an infinity of things we do not see while we are busy getting on with life. My intention has always been to capture that which we pass by, that which goes unnoticed. These small yet intrinsically significant moments, these glimpses, often represent the kind of freedom that we forget to notice and forget to cherish.
This is a personal freedom that transcends race, religion, gender and cultural boundaries. It is encountered here, in these images of protest, of childhood, of contemplation, of back alleys and brief beauty. Freedom is not always found in the biggest of things, but comes in little revelations, little epiphanies. It is the things people write on walls when alone. It is there in the odd melancholy of a wind farm against a stormy sky, or in moments of quiet joy, a balloon lifting past a sullen city building.
Art Against War
I have been working as a political artist since the age of 6 when I copied political cartoons from newspapers. The events in the UK after 2001 enabled me to find freedom as a political artist by the realisation that I no longer needed to be at the whim of gallery owners.
By taking my work onto the massive anti-war marches in the form of 2 very large images together with postcards of those images (see Artist’s picture) I was overwhelmed with demonstrators who wanted to buy the postcards. The money raised went back into the Artists’ group to fund other projects.
I have continued distributing my work in this way for the last 7 years, on trade union marches, anti-war marches, supporting the Palestinians etc. If you’re a political artist think about trying my idea, you will break out of your isolation and have great confidence to continue the struggle and you’ll realise that political art can make a difference. It’s the next step up from spraying walls.
Meta São Paulo
Freedom can be seen as a state of living in disaffection to a thing, a subject or a particularly undesirable situation. Depending on the individual’s conception of reality this can be a physical or mental state.
Modernity may be able to free people from their imposed limitations of family or community life, however this renunciation also means the loss of certainty and meaning. In São Paulo, once considered Brazil’s most modern of metropolis, those who left the northeast or are foreigners attached culturally or religiously to their first sources of land, who often become homeless in this enormous urban landscape.
In each of these images the individual is alone in his endeavor within the context of a city that is seething at twenty million people and still offering them utopian opportunities. The man on the wall tries to escape his concrete imprisonment, also his birthplace.1 The homeless man feeds the pigeons, a city icon for those we most normally attribute freedom to, birds.2 The lone runner in a lonely city on a lonely rainy day needs no words.3 The young drug dealer peers out into the unknown, waiting.4 and finally the child with the freedom to sleep where, when and how he wants, but the truth is he could possibly not awake this time around.
Wrong life cannot be lived rightly even if you are free. In the traditional bourgeoisie neighborhoods and of course in the slums of the city there is no freedom. In the former hypocrisy towards oppression can no longer be concealed, so escape through wealth is unreasonable while in the latter the illusion of freedom, due to the lawlessness, will no longer be sustainable.
Photographs of Iraq by Iraqi women
Open Shutters trained women rom all over Iraq to share their experiences of the war and occupation using photographs and writing
Before choosing their story, the women prepared and presented intimate life maps using writing and old photographs
All the content of the project was created and edited by the women themselves
Chobi Mela would like to thank Eugenie Dolberg for providing this exhibition
My daughter, Sara, and I ran to the kitchen window to see what was happening. Three American tanks were lumbered down our narrow street, tearing up the trees by their roots. They stopped in front of our house. I was terrified. I looked at Sara. Maybe they’d stopped because they were annoyed that we were watching them. Missiles had been launched from our neighbourhood the day before and they were searching the area.
They kicked our door again and again. I forbade my children to go anywhere near it. My husband ran to open the door and they came in. They sprawled on the living room couches. My three children and I sat together on one sofa. I was trembling.
“Are you Christian?” They must have noticed the cross hanging on the wall.
“Yes” my husband answered.
“No…you’ve brought nothing but fire and destruction”
“So, did you love Saddam, then?”
“Of course not, he burned the best years of our lives and he brought you here”
“And the present government?”
“…who’ve achieved nothing – today even more of us are dying”
Suddenly one of them looked at my eldest son. My heart stopped. I didn’t know whether it was the heat or the terror that covered my face in sweat. They asked my children’s ages… “What do they study?…What do they care about? How do they spend their time?” I was burning. I just wanted them to leave.
I have three children; Sara, 22 – she studies Arabic literature at university, Emad, 17 – his dream is to study computers and IT, and Eyad, 15, our pride and joy. About a year ago, Eyad left to go to school. Half an hour later we heard a lot of shooting and minutes later heavy rumble of explosions. Our normally quiet neighbourhood was thrown into turmoil. Dunia, our neighbour’s daughter, ran back home, screaming and shaking. There had been skirmishes and the Americans had invaded her high school to use as a base from which to attack the armed militias. “Abu Emad, I want my son. I want him now” I shouted. I ran out into the street and waited there in my pyjamas until I finally saw my husband coming back with my son. The National Guard have raided our house more than once. They always come at dawn. They ask about my kids, in great detail, and I tremble.
Everyday I say goodbye to my daughter and send her off to college. I kiss her and stand at the window praying she’ll arrive safely. I call her several times while she’s on her way to college and if I hear any explosions, I insist that she keep talking to me until she gets there.
I am torn. My life and that of my kids is in Mosul – our house, our memories, everything that we know and that means anything to us. But, am I not being unfair to them if I choose to stay? And if I left, where would I go? What kind of future can I possibly offer them?
I live in constant anxiety and terror.