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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

EPF 2012 Finalist

 

Gustavo Jononovich

Richland

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RICHLAND is my first long-term book project about the over-exploitation of the natural resources in Latin America and the resulting long-term negative effects, both human and environmental. The push for accelerated world economic growth has led to increasing demand for natural resources. Rather than benefit from natural resources abundance and wealth, local people living in areas of exploitation have experienced loss of livelihoods, health problems, human rights violations and environmental degradation.
The images included in this submission were made in Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and Ecuador. In 2008 I traveled to Brazil, a rising demand for soybean on the global market has led the Brazilian government to expand the agricultural frontier into the Amazonia. I covered the struggle of the people who has been displaced by the expansion of soya business into the Amazon region. In 2009 I traveled to La Oroya in Peru, one of the world’s ten most polluted places where thousands of children have blood lead levels that exceed acceptable limits. The lead comes from a smelter owned by the American Doe Run Company. In early 2010 I went to Venezuela to cover the illegal diamond and gold trade. About 200,000 miners are searching for diamonds and gold on the border with Brazil. The idea of finding a single diamond or seam of gold is enough motivation to put up with living isolated in the jungle. In 2011 I traveled to Ecuador to work on oil pollution. Over three decades of oil drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Texaco dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into the rainforest, polluting rivers and streams that local people depend on for drinking, cooking, bathing and fishing and leaving them suffering a wave of cancers and birth defects.
The EPF grant will allow me to complete this project. For the last part, I plan to travel to the south of Chile in order to cover the social and environmental impacts of the construction of hydroelectric dams in the Patagonia region.

 

Bio

Gustavo Jononovich was born in Argentina in 1979. He began his studies in photography in 2002. In 2006, he started working as a professional photographer covering local news for the Argentine media. Since 2008 his main focus are long-term projects, being more interested in providing an in-depth analysis on the stories. His first book project, “Richland” (currently in progress), is about the over-exploitation of the natural resources in Latin America and the resulting long-term negative effects, both human and environmental. His work has been published in BURN magazine, Newsweek Japan, PRIVATE photo review and PDFX12, among others. Gustavo’s main accolades include a nomination for the ICP Infinity Award in Photojournalism (2010) and awards from Sony World Photography Organization (2012, 2nd place Contemporary issues), POYi Latin America (2011, 2nd place in migration and human trafficking category), EPOTY (2009, 2nd place in climate change category) and 14EIF Gijon (2010, finalist).

 

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CAIRO CLASHES
CAIRO CLASHES: A demonstrator carried a wounded man to safety during clashes with police outside Cairo’s security headquarters Monday. (Marco Longari/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

GRIDLOCKED
GRIDLOCKED: New York Giants player Justin Tuck tackled New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., Sunday. The Giants captured the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl championship with a 21-17 victory. (Timothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

POOR IN BANGLADESH
POOR IN BANGLADESH: A woman retrieved her belongings after police demolished a slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday. More than 100 families living in shanties built up on Gulshan-Banani Lake were evicted. (Andrew Biraj/Reuters)

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: Zanna Bateman of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery readied herself before departing for a 41-gun salute in London’s Hyde Park Monday to mark the 60 anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne at age 25. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

ENCASED
ENCASED: Ice covered a car at a boardwalk near Lake Geneva in Geneva Monday. Overwhelmed by deep snow and harsh temperatures, some countries in Europe closed schools and struggled to run transit systems amid the deadly cold snap. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/European Pressphoto Agency)

BRAZEN BANK ATTACK
BRAZEN BANK ATTACK: An investigator gathered evidence at a NatWest Bank in Bingham, England, Monday. Police said thieves used a tractor to pull an ATM from the wall. (Mike Egerton//PA Photos/ABACA)

OFFICER HURT
OFFICER HURT: A police officer was hit in the face with a rubber bullet fired by an army soldier during protests in Salvador, Brazil, Monday. Hundreds of police officers are striking for higher wages, unleashing a rash of looting and a spike in the murder rate in their absence. (Lunae Parracho/Reuters)

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Ahmed Harara is a dentist. While protesting during the Egyptian revolution in January, he was struck in the eye by a rubber bullet. Blinded in that eye, he continued to protest. Then, during the November protests in Tahrir Square, Ahmed was shot in his other eye by a rubber bullet. Now he is completely blind.

But he kept protesting.

Harara is one of more than a hundred protesters around the world photographed by TIME contract photographer Peter Hapak. From Oakland, Calif., to New York City, across Europe and through the Middle East, Hapak and I traveled nearly 25,000 miles photographing protesters and activists from eight countries.

We photographed protesters representing Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland, Occupy the Hood, Los Indignados of Spain, protesters in Greece, revolutionaries in Tunisia and Egypt, activists from Syria fleeing persecution, a crusader fighting corruption in India, Tea Party activists from New York, a renowned poet turned protester from Mexico and a protester from Wisconsin who carries a shovel, topped by a flag.

We set up makeshift studios in hotel rooms, apartments and people’s homes, inside a temple in rural India and an anarchist headquarters in Athens — even in the courtyard of the home of Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi. Tear gas wafted into our studio in a hotel room overlooking Tahrir Square — the same room where Yuri Kozyrev made a now iconic photograph of the crowd.

Each time, we asked subjects to bring with them mementos of protest. Rami Jarrah, a Syrian activist who fled to Cairo, brought his battered iPhone. He showed me some of the most intense protest footage I’ve ever seen. A Spanish protester named Stephane Grueso brought his iPhone too, referring to it as a “weapon.” Young Egyptian protesters brought rubber pellets that had been fired at them by security forces. Another brought a spent tear-gas canister. Subjects carried signs, flags and gas masks (some industrial ones, some homemade, like the one belonging to Egyptian graffiti artist El Teneen — his was made from a Pepsi can). A trio of Greek protesters brought Maalox. (Mixed with water, it was sprayed on their eyes to counter the harsh effects of tear gas.) Molly Katchpole, the young woman from Washington, D.C., who took on Bank of America — and won — brought her chopped-up debit card. Sayda al-Manahe brought a framed photograph of her son Hilme, a young Tunisian killed by police during the revolution. El Général, the Tunisian revolutionary rapper, brought nothing but his voice — he rapped a cappella for us (we have video). Lina Ben Mhenni, a blogger from Tunisia and a Nobel Peace Prize contender, brought her laptop. She spoke Arabic, yet we understood the words Facebook and Twitter.

Each subject was photographed in front of a white or black background — eliminating their environments but elevating their commonality to that of “Protester,” a fitting setup for a group of people united by a common desire for change.

“They were all unhappy. They wanted change, and they wanted a better life,” Hapak said. “Everybody is out there to unite their power for one common cause, one common expression: to get a better life.”

Witty is the international picture editor at TIME.

Hapak is a contract photographer for TIME, who most recently photographed Tilda Swinton for the Dec. 19, 2011, issue.

MORE: See the entire 2011 Person of the Year package here

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