The Baka, indigenous peoples of Cameroon, are facing a serious departure from their traditional way of life due to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle that has been forced upon them for years. They were expelled from their ancestral lands, which have been turned into protected areas of the Dja Faunal Reserve and into concessions granted to transnational companies that exploit natural resources such as gold, iron and wood. However, the Baka People see themselves as the guardians of the forest.
The economic development policies of the Cameroon government have focused on mining, wood and extensive agriculture of mono-crops such as oil palm and rubber, causing the progressive disappearance of the rainforest. This has all triggered an accelerated loss of the collective identity of the Baka community, which is driving them toward alcoholism, malnutrition and the proliferation of diseases like HIV and AIDS.
Profoundly disoriented, settled at the gate of the rainforest, the Baka people are deprived of the fundamental right to property of their own land, as recognized by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007.
This essay was Shortlisted for the EPF 2016
Spain, 1974. Based in Sevilla, Spain. Background in Philosophy. Aitor´s professional career began in 1999 upon receiving the photography award from Spanish gallerist Juana de Aizpuru, and participating in international fairs such as ARCO and ParisPhoto. In 2004, he received the Ruy de Clavijo grant from Casa Asia to carry out a project in Uzbekistan. His work has appeared in magazines such as NewsWeek, CNN, NBC, Financial Times, Ojo de Pez, Vokrug Sveta. He has published four books: Maestranza (2007),Tower of Silence (Casa Asia, 2008), Ronda Goyesca and PHotoBolsillo (La Fábrica, 2012, 2015). His photographic report about the bullring of Seville has been exhibited at the front of the FNAC building in Seville since 2009. He has received the ENDESA Grant for Art in 2013 and the PhotoEspaña Ojo de Pez Award of Human Values in 2014 for Save the Children report on Spain´s child poverty crisis. Honorable mention of UNICEF Photo of the Year 2014.
For my series “Dream Hotel”. My role here in Bangkok is to be guiding and mentoring my 14 students in our @magnumphotos workshop here. We are parallel with Jacob Aue Sobol and we’ve had joint sessions with our respective classes. Pictured here is Olivia Aviña Estévez who is assisting me with our class. After the workshop I will be full on shooting for Dream Hotel and BeachGames projects. @jacobauesobolnew @oliweirdtwist #bangkok]]>
Here in Bangkok it’s been all so far hanging poster print show and mostly dealing with time reverse. Our workshops start Sunday. So I haven’t had time to really shoot yet. Heading out now for a bit of night shooting, Yet even when I’m not on the case shooting heavy I sketch and play with my iPhone.]]>
‘Stranger Come Home’ is about longing for steady love, how the unlived life haunts the everyday, and how a home remembers a relationship.
In the aftermath of a breakup, I sold all of my furniture, shoved my books in storage, and left the city. I ran for months on end, and I visited my parents and old friends. Staring at their front doors, living room walls, and kitchen counters, I saw signs of the settled comfort that I so desperately missed.
Homes have a way of holding on. If you live in a place long enough, your belongings say something about your hopes and your past. If you live with a partner, the shared space sings of the habits, routines, and rhythms of your relationship. When it’s over, the house remembers your old dreams. With every cup in the cupboard, every book on the shelf, it reminds you of what was and what could have been.
‘Stranger Come Home’ imagines a place where losses are recovered and everything belongs. Household still lives, backyard landscapes, and tender portraits suggest a shared lifetime of sunny afternoons. Pictures of done dishes, soft sheets, and leafy neighborhoods hover between reality and remembrance. Daydream light washes over everything, but the perfect peace can’t last. Dreams are beautiful because they are brief.
Any fantasy comes with an awareness of its inevitable, painful absence. Regrets, nostalgia, and unfulfilled desires shadow this romantic vision of home. To quote from Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, “to crave and to have are as a thing and its shadow.” Things fall apart, moments only remain still in memory, and no one really knows how to make love stay. The pictures search the faces of family, bedside tabletops, and distant houses for signs of a world made whole again.
The project traces a deeply personal narrative, but by beholding everyday domestic details with tenderness, ‘Stranger Come Home’ invokes a universal longing for a place of your own, a life filled with love, and the fear you’ll never find it.
This essay was Shortlisted for the EPF 2016
Ward Long is a photographer based in Oakland, California.
Working in his home state and the American South, his pictures describe loss, people, and landscape with literary precision and cinematic sequencing. His photographs treat light as revelation, and blend a documentary approach with personal storytelling. Making books by hand, his work twists text, image, and craft into strands of poetic narrative.
He holds a degree in political science from Davidson College, and graduated from the Photography MFA program at the University of Hartford in 2015. Studying with Alec Soth, Mark Steinmetz, and Doug Dubois, he received both the President’s Award and the Perfect Dummy award.
He has been profiled in American Photo, and his writings and interviews have been featured on Lay Flat.
In the last eighteen months he’s lived in Durham, Jacksonville, Brooklyn, Asheville, Berkeley, Berlin, and Hamden, and he’s really hoping things will settle down soon.