Firehouse Gallery North
June 4 to July 2, 2013
OPening Night, Friday, June 14
7 - 9pm
1790 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley CA 94709
Jenny Lemper, Photography exhibit
"No Lines Between: The Georgians of Abkhazia and Samegrelo"
With the fall of the Soviet Union, the world’s map was dramatically reconfigured. The collapse set off conflict and turmoil in the Caucasus. Instability and uncertainty continue partially as a result of geopolitical strategizing by outside nations. A more hidden war has replaced the Cold War as East and West vie for influence and control. Access to Caspian oil and gas is of primary importance in the power struggle. Various disagreements block western-bound oil and gas transport except through the Republic of Georgia, a convenient land bridge between Azerbaijan’s Caspian coast and the Black Sea. Whoever has the most influence there can better control the western market. For this reason Georgia is being pressed diplomatically by the West and geographically by Russia. Three of Georgia’s former territories: South Ossetia, Kodori Valley, and Abkhazia are manned with Russian troops.
The 1992-93 Abkhazian/Georgian war pushed 45% of the population out of Abkhazia. Most were Georgians. Many have been allowed to return to their homes in Gali district; however, most live in Samegrelo on the Georgian side of the border. In 2010, I began the documentary project No Lines Between: The Georgians of Abkhazia and Samegrelo. It attempts to represent the people residing along the conflict border who are trying to live as a singular, undivided community despite the twenty year old division line running through it. Though the housing crisis affecting displaced people is key to this project, its scope widened in response to the web-like dynamism of the post-conflict environment. Subject matter has varied through out the process: from displaced people living in abandoned institutional buildings called collective centers, to those selected for new housing, to the larger community and landscape. To photograph in this community requires openness: to the people, to their history, struggles, and achievements. It requires a willingness to absorb all that is there as my own: the beauty, sadness, hope, regrets, frustrations, and determination. I keep my eyes alive, remembering to concentrate on the mood and aesthetic, the angles and shadows, and take the photographs. Each image represents a vast realization. Together, the photographs create an inclusive composite picture, an ever-expanding map of understanding.
Jennifer Lemper is a Californian artist experienced in painting, drawing, silkscreen, and film photography. In 2005 she received a BFA in photography from San Jose State University. She photographs in a subjective documentary style, focusing on the social, cultural, environmental, and political aspects of contemporary reality. Her work utilizes both spontaneous and deliberate methods and explores local as well as international occurrences. Previous projects include collaborating artistically with individuals in San Francisco to create images that investigate gender roles and sexuality and photographing New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Since 2010 she has been working on an ongoing project, documenting people affected by conflict on the Georgian/Abkhaz border.
Posted by: Julia Lazar
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