Nigel Dickinson: Roma Beyond Borders + Smokey Mountain, The University of the Arts Gallery 1401
Setting out to experience new art on the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours 2013 I was thrilled to discover that my Alma Mater, the University of the Arts, was hosting photography shows as part or the annual city wide art crawl. Gallery 1401 is hosting an exhibit by renowned photographer Nigel Dickinson comparing and contrasting lifestyles of two disparate peoples, the Roma and inhabitants of a place nicknamed Smokey Mountain inhabited by scavengers who rely on the waste discarded by the more affluent people of Phnom Penh.
The work of Nigel Dickinson, a London and Paris based photojournalist, is featured with work from two projects. The Roma, a people whose history is not written within one country’s borders is the subject of “Roma Beyond Borders.” The Roma originated from India, traversing Asia as the Ottoman Empire pushed towards Europe’s frontiers. Enslaved by monasteries in Romania, many were later deported to the Americas. Their story is abouth diaspora, migration, persecution and ethnic cleansing. Sedentary or nomadic, they have a strong identity, with a rich and vibrant culture. They can be extravagant and ostentatious, though some in too many places live in abject poverty.
The other selection is from Nigel Dickinson’s ‘Smokey Mountain‘ project. “Smokey Mountain is a rubbish dump, which started as a landfill site 60 years ago on the outskirts of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh; the grey cloud of acrid smoke exuding from constantly burning garbage gives it its nickname. 24 hours a day, some 2000 casual workers, including 600 children, scavenges the dumpsite, collecting plastic bags, metal, plastics and paper for recycling. People work, eat and sleep amidst the rubbish and its constant fumes, earning about $1.00 per day. The place is notorious for pollution, crime and disease, and medical waste is a constant hazard. Nigel Dickinson’s exhibition “Roma Beyond Borders + Smokey Mountain” was made possible with the support of Innova Art (USA).
Nigel Dickinson, a British documentary photographer, photojournalist and filmmaker, focuses on the environment, marginalized communities, sustainable development, identity and culture. Graduating from Sheffield UK, Dickinson’s first show was at Camerawork Gallery, London in 1983; he photographed across South Africa the same year, then the Great Miners Strike 1984-85; later began freelancing for the media in the UK and abroad. In the late 1980’s he documented indigenous land rights and deforestation in Borneo, the early 1990’s, the “UK Road Protest Movement“, spent several; years in Central America and the Balkans and began his twenty-year project ‘Roma Beyond Borders’ which is currently being edited as a ‘livre d’auteur’. In 2003, ten-year’s work Sara. Le pelerinage des gitans, was published by the same edition, Actes Sud. in 2012 Nigel Dickinson returned to Borneo to revisit the native peoples he photographed twenty years before, documenting them through video, photography and multimedia.
Publications include: National Geographic, Stern, Figoro, Vogue Homme and Marie Claire. His work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Visa Pourl’image, Arles Rencontres, Moving Walls documentary series in New York, Rivington Palace, London, Kolga Tblisi Photo, Denmark Triennale and Photo Lucida. Assignments from editorial and NGO’s over three decades have taken Nigel Dickinson across the Americas, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, covering a diverse range of subjects, including refugees, climate change, environmental disasters, war, the MEAT industry and Islamic Sharia. Dickinson lives and works between Paris, London and the rest of the world.
Nigel Dickinson‘s awards include “Mad Cows” (World Press award 1997); Roma Beyond Borders (runner-up, Eugene Smith Award 2000); MEAT (shortlisted, European Publishers award 2006); ‘Cambodia‘ (feature award, UK Press Photographers Year 2008); and ‘Smokey Mountain‘ (Critical Mass 2011 Solo Exhibition Award).
Gallery 1401, celebrating its 15th year of operation, is located on the 14th floor of Terra Hall, 211 South Broad Street at the University of the Arts offering a year-round schedule of contemporary photography. Associate Professor and former director of the Photography program Harris Fogel has been director/curator since 1997. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00am – 5:00pm, weekends by appointment, 215-717-6300.
DoNArTNeWs is more than grateful for the information Professor Fogel provided to accompany this story. Both of Nigel Dickinson‘s photographic themes are immersive, daring and innovative, taking the viewer into the lives of the Roma in their homes filled with decorations and family life to the steaming trash mound called Smokey Mountain with children rummaging through the trash looking for bits of treasure. The experience is enlightening and insightful offering a rare look into the lives of people that we can barely understand let alone fathom.
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