Ed Kashi, Lou Dematteis & Kayana Szymczak

MAIN GALLERY: 11.5.08 – 12.6.08
OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH, 6-8P

photography by Ed Kashi

ED KASHI, CURSE OF THE BLACK GOLD:  FIFTY YEARS OF OIL IN THE NIGER DELTA

Curse of the Black Gold: Fifty Years of Oil in The Niger Delta takes a graphic look at the profound cost of oil exploitation in West Africa, featuring images by world-renowned photojournalist Ed Kashi. Now one of the major suppliers of U.S. oil, Nigeria is the eighth largest producer of oil in the world. Set against a backdrop of what has been called the scramble for African oil, Curse of Black Gold documents the consequences of a half-century of oil exploration and production in one of the world’s foremost centers of biodiversity. This work exposes the harsh reality of oil’s impact and the absence of sustainable development in its wake, providing a compelling pictorial history of one of the world’s great deltaic areas. Kashi’s photographs capture local leaders, armed militants, oil workers, and nameless villagers, all of whose fate is inextricably linked. His exclusive coverage bears witness to the ongoing struggles of local communities, illustrating the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty. A book by the same name has just been published by powerHouse Books.

photography by Lou Dematteis

LOU DEMATTEIS & KAYANA SZYMCZAK, CRUDE REFLECTIONS

In 1993, I traveled to the Ecuadorian Amazon to investigate reports of extensive environmental damage and contamination as a result of large-scale oil development. During that trip, a doctor from Ecuador’s Ministry of Health told me that the region was sitting on a time bomb as a result of the toxic contamination dumped and left in the environment by Texaco’s oil drilling and production operations. He told me it would take ten-to-twenty years for cancers to begin manifesting themselves, but then we would see them all over the place. When I returned to the region once again in 2003 after an absence of ten years, I found that the time bomb had exploded. Everywhere I turned, it seemed, I encountered people with cancers, birth defects and other serious health problems. I was determined to help give voice to the people who are living this tragedy. I hope that the photographs and testimonies in this exhibit help to do that.

photography by Kayana Szymczak

I went to the Amazon knowing that I would see the effects of contamination on the environment, culture, and health of the communities living in the wake of ChevronTexaco oil development. Nevertheless, I was simply unprepared for the level of devastation I encountered— children born with tragic birth defects, toxic oil facilities built in people’s backyards, and indigenous communities facing total cultural loss. I was shocked daily at the depth of the destruction, and became determined to tell the story of those facing it, and resisting it. I have attempted to bear witness to the reality of the struggle in the Ecuadorian Amazon today. I hope that these photographs will inspire viewers to support the people whose struggle—for livelihood, justice, even survival—continues.

A book by the same name has just been published by City Lights Books.