Tribal designers and photographers from Assam, Sikkim, Manipur and Nagaland apart from Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Karnataka and Telangana participated in two very stimulating and engaging sessions with experts from Nigeria and Cook Islands to understand the various approaches of documenting tribal communities and their culture through photography.
Nigeria’s first World Press Photo Award winning former Reuters photographer, Akintunde Akinleye provided insights on how the mundane and often ignored values of indigenous communities could be captured to present the realities in a very aesthetic manner. Akintunde, also a visual anthropologist, shared his approach of recording history through his work at Makoko – a settlement of indigenous communities on water in the heart of Lagos, Nigeria.
The second speaker, Alex King, from the Cook Islands shared her journey of rediscovering her identity as a Maori and a Polynesian indigenous person and also reconnecting with her indigenous people, community, art, culture and belief systems intertwined with nature, through her photo documentary, story-telling and digital art. Alex, who is on board of the Indigenous Advisory Council for the Photographers without Borders – an international organization with the mission of make storytelling more accessible for communities around the world who are contributing to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and UNDRIP, also shared her experience of working in Indonesia to cover the impact of globalisation on the local ecology, wildlife and indigenous communities.
“It is time the world started seeing the indigenous communities through the eyes and the perspectives of the indigenous people themselves. And what better an opportunity to have indigenous photographers providing the much-needed voice to the marginalised communities.” stated Alex King during the course of her presentation.
“It is interesting to learn from the experts how healing and compassion plays an important role in the process of documenting any culture, especially the marginalised tribal and indigenous communities,” noted Charles Tirkey, a photographer and one of the participants.
Participants benefited from these interactions organised by the Tribal Design Forum, India’s only community of designers and creative professionals of tribal origin, by gaining insights into how photography is being used as a powerful tool not just to documenting tribal cultures and lifestyle but also providing a voice to the marginalised communities by representing their perspectives in pictures.
“Regular interaction with experts from around the world who have worked closely with indigenous communities makes the Tribal Design Forum meetings an enriching and exciting learning experience for our tribal designers while it also allows them a platform to connect with experts from overseas,” said Sudhir John Horo, the convenor of the meeting.
Akintunde Akinleye and Alex Kings are on the international jury of the Tribal Heritage Photography Contest that is currently being organised by the Tribal Design Forum. The contest closes on 29 October. Apart from them, there are other experts from India, Peru, Ecuador, The Netherlands, United States of America and Australia who will be selecting the winners of the Tribal Heritage Photography Contest. More information on the photography contest is available on www.tribaldesignforum.com.