Monthly Archives: May 2012

Burundi Beauty

I’ve worked in Burundi since 1999 to promote reconciliation and peace after the genocide in the 1990s – with non-governmental organizations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a private university.

During longer stays I spend my spare time with eight female university students and a group of former street boys. We go to places, take pictures and learn a lot about each other. And we laugh a lot!

Here is Cynthia Ndongozi, a student of medicine born in 1986. She stood in the doorway of a simple hut in the countryside, torrential rains from dark clouds on an otherwise blue skye. Thus the blue lips.

Cynthia3cp

Cynthia # 3, Bujumbura, Burundi  (2010)
© Jan Oberg

Most of the young women have no experience of being photographed. I ask them to decide the place, their clothes, make-up, if any, and how they want to appear and express themselves. The moment I – a muzungu = white man – would begin to tell them what to do and how to act, the natural beauty and spontaneity would be gone. I don’t like “models”, coolness and surface. I try to portray human beings in a natural way.

I take pictures in Burundi – also other people, villages, and the incredibly beautiful landscape – to show the strength and pride of people I meet. I seek to promote counter-images to the typical Western image of Africa as a lost, dark, hopeless continent. War, corruption, AIDS and poverty only makes up a fraction of today’s African reality.

Many foreign photographers pay those they take pictures of a one-time honorarium and may then sell their works at many times that honorarium in a fashionable gallery back home. I don’t; I think that’s a colonial attitude, not fair trade. We have a contract that entitles each to get 50 percent of what I sell. Thus I hope to make a small contribution towards their study fees and get them attracted to do business instead of just become a housewife in a society with a lot of sexual violence.

Here is Cynthia’s sister, Fiona. She studies business management – a modern city girl with a mobile phone in her hand. Oh what contrasts!

Fiona1cp

Fiona # 1, Bujumbura, Burundi  (2010)
© Jan Oberg

A camera is so much more than a tool for depicting reality. Sometimes it’s a bridge between people and cultures. Perhaps even a tool for peace…

“Cynthia # 3” & “Fiona # 1” Bujumbura, Burundi  (2010)
Inkjet print on Canson fine arts paper.
Formats & prices (excl postage) each:
A5 (148 × 210 mm) – Edition unlimited, 20 US$
A4 (210 × 297 mm) – Edition 50, US$ 115
A3+ (329 x 483 mm) – Edition 25, US$ 225
A1 (610 x 910 mm) – Edition 10, US$ 750
Signed and numbered.
Comes with print authenticity documentation
Can also be printed on canvas or steel, copper, etc.

Information/Order: janoberg@mac.com

Other photos from Burundi at
http://www.obergphotographics.com

Best
Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden
June 1, 2012

Mount Puig, Spain

A little news from my studio…

I guess “Costa del Sol” – the Coast of the Sun – is not the first thing you think of when you see this photo?

Mtpuig3

However, in March 2010 I visited a peace research colleague who has a house up the hills from Benidorm in the Alicante province in Spain. The weather was ever-changing, very dramatic. I decided to take my rented car and drive up the mountain. I stopped and took pictures here and there, and even though the clouds were all around me and there was a light rain, everything was fine.

Until, that is, the narrow tarmac road changed into gravel that changed into a very slippery greensoap-like mud road. Scared, I couldn’t but drive on in the hope to find a place to turn around and go back. But there was no such place.

Then suddenly the car slid into the bushes and stones along the rock side and there I was, stuck no matter what I tried to do. It was a Saturday and I had to walk the whole way down and contact a rescue company that managed to get the car down the next day. The bill for this photo wasn’t small…

However, I am grateful to be alive. Had the car slid to the other side and over the cliff, I don’t think I would be here to tell you this.

 

“Mount Puig, Spain”  2010
Inkjet print on Canson fine arts paper.
Can also be printed on canvas and steel.
Formats & prices (excl postage)
A5 (148 × 210 mm) – Edition unlimited, 20 US$
A4 (210 × 297 mm) – Edition 50, US$ 75
A3+ (329 x 483 mm) – Edition 25, US$ 180
A1 (610 x 910 mm) – Edition 10, US$ 750
Signed and numbered.
Comes with print authenticity documentation.
Information/Order: janoberg@mac.com
© Jan Oberg

May 25, 2012

 

Hyde Park Tableau Vivant 2012

A little news from my studio…

Early April morning in Hyde Park, London. Sun rays through early mist. Before the foliage you can better enjoy the sculptural shapes of trees.

Hydeparkforkyellow5drawn_cp

Click on the image to see full screen

A simple picture? Yes, it is a simple picture but I’ve worked on this more than most.

Normally, lots of joggers and people walking their dogs this time of the day; enigmatically, none were in focus when I shot this picture.

I’ve deleted the Royal Albert Hall and the awful colonial monument at the end of the left path; a picture can also be about what you don’t see! Both paths now end in – well, nowhere. And the sky is slightly pink.

To the left and right I made the trees stop well before the edge; in reality they continue, of course.

I felt the motif itself invited me to experiment with essentials such as depth, space and time (lessness) and simplicity. So during the process, this field with these trees became a stage with actors in an un-arranged tableau vivant.

Visitors to my gallery mainly see the fork in the road or point to not knowing where the journey ends – kind of existential perspectives. Or they simply love trees, morning sun and simplicity. I’m happy if my images causes many different associations in the viewer’s mind.

I took the picture while visiting London to see David Hockney’s exhibition at The Royal Academy. I wonder what he could make out of this as a painting. You know, he doesn’t like photography. Or so he says.

I am working on this image in a few different editions, one among them will be black-grey-white, perhaps one inverted – or working with the light to become late afternoon. I feel there is more to explore, the light in particular.

I invite you to tell me what you think.

“Hyde Park Tableu Vivant” 2012
Inkjet print on Canson fine arts paper or on canvas
Formats & prices (excl postage):
A5 (148 × 210 mm) – Edition unlimited, 20 US$
A4 (210 × 297 mm) – Edition 50, US$ 115
A3+ (329 x 483 mm) – Edition 25, US$ 225
A1 (610 x 910 mm) – Edition 10, US$ 750
Signed and numbered.
Comes with print authenticity documentation.
Information/Order: janoberg@mac.com
Mob +46 738 525200.
© Jan Oberg

Best
Jan Öberg

Lund, Sweden May 14, 2012