resource wars

caribou migration - pregnant caribou migrating to the
coastal plane (where they give birth, and where the oil is)
at this very moment, this very moment that i am typing, i am at a lecture by subhankar banerjee.  it just started.  ::his:: blog can be found here.

he took photographs in the arctic national wildlife refuge to raise awareness about climate change and global warming and how it's affecting our world.  he began his higher education in engineering, grad school for computer science, and began photographing his travels in america as a grad student.  from there he continued his photography as a hobby, until he quit his job with boeing and became an official artist.  he wanted to find pristine wilderness, which is difficult.  thus, alaska (keep in mind he grew up in calcutta).

first thing he learned: slow down.  (the blizzards get in the way of hurrying very much there)

caribou skeleton - during their first long distance migration - caused by
their normal feeding ground freezing - hundreds of caribou froze themselves
his pictures are gorgeous.  they really convey the beauty and purity that he was searching for, and the frailty of the environment.  he purposely took photos with muted colors as a political move.  the arctic was always described as a 'hostile wasteland' and other such unappealing descriptions that encouraged those that saw the land as only good for oil.  he wanted to show the land as something alive - full of birds that migrate from all over the world, connecting it to every part of earth, along with caribou, wales, and fish that connect indigenous communities.

he was inspired by millet's commentary on society and human rights issues.  his photographs are intended to increase awareness about the damage being done to wildlife due to greed for oil as well as negative effects on indigenous communities that are so often forgotten by politicians and civilians.

caribou tracks on wetlands ii
the oil underneath the arctic refuge that drillers want to reach is said to last for 400 years, which, subhankar pointed out, would kill us if we keep using fossil fuels as we do now.  the land over this oil is also crucial for survival of four different indigenous tribes, as well as endless amounts of wildlife.  climate change is already killing increasingly more caribou calves, destroying homes of polar bears, etc. etc.

apart from the politics, he has a wonderful sense of composition and color.  are his photographs minimalist because he was in alaska or was he drawn to alaska because of his minimalist tendencies? either way, his methods work well with his message.

my favorite part was when he was talking about photographing a bird mating dance and he said he was most excited that it was an all brown color palette.

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