The project we are working on while traveling in South Asia is unseenworld, an international arts project for workers and refugees to describe their lives through photography. Photographers learn to become seen while they document impacts of globalization on communities throughout the world.
This September the project launched a class with Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala, India. We’ll continue over the course of a year throughout Asia. We hope to also work with Burmese refugees in Thailand. The core of the program is a series of free photography workshops. Workers and refugees receive cameras and photography instruction while engaging in discussions about self-representation. Participants tell their stories through their photographs. The pictures will be accompanied by audio recordings of storytelling, street sounds, community festivals, and the sounds that compose the pulse and spirit of daily life. We hope that the culmination of unseenworld will be a traveling exhibit, multimedia website and book.
unseenworld is an expansion of unseenamerica, an innovative arts project created in order to add the vision of workers to the vision of society. unseenamerica was conceived by Esther Cohen the Executive Director of the Bread and Roses Cultural Project of 1199SEIU, a 30-year old non-profit 501c3. In the last five years, unseenamerica has completed photography workshops and exhibits with workers, immigrants and refugees in over 300 cities and towns across the nation. unseenamerica has been featured on CBS, NPR, and World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, among others. Articles have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek and scores of other national and local papers. In May 2006, Regan Books of Harper Collins released a beautiful hardcover book of photographs from the project, entitled: unseenamerica: Photos and Stories by Workers.
We are thrilled to have the privilege to be doing this work while we travel. Zoeann will focus on the photography while Justin’s focus is audio. This blog will help us stay in touch and share our travel experiences and creative process with you.
Zoeann & Justin