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Egypt photo exhibit looks at farmer and farmed
Published in Bikya Masr on 27 - 07 - 2010

CAIRO: The farmer and the farmed. The cow and culture. These are all ideas being tackled in a new photography exhibition in downtown Cairo. Dutch photographer Ellen Gerlings will take viewers on a journey from India to Mexico to Egypt to Norway in an attempt to educate the public on the relationship between animals and people in the developing world.
“My idea is to show the differences between farmers in the developing world and those in the West and how it plays a role in the cultural realm of the developing world,” said Geerlings.
“Essentially, it is the relationship between animals and people,” she added.
What she wants people to realize and understand is that animals in the developing world have a much different relationship than in the West, where factory farming has taken over and manpower in the production of animals has declined massively in recent decades. Geerlings believes that through photography, this relationship can be seen and witnessed.
Titled “Panorama,” the Dutch photographer says it “refers both to the masterpiece of the exhibition – the manochrome panoramic view of the city of Rome – but also to the meaning of panorama in the sense of giving an overview.”
The majority of the pictures will look at farming and livestock with a special interest on the vocational training she has received as a researcher and consultant for local NGOs, donor agencies, research institutes and United Nations organizations across the world.
The exhibition spans nearly a decade and a half, with the oldest photo being presented being taken in 1996, on a farm in Martinez de la Torre in Veracruz, Mexico, when Geerlings herself was a trainee on the farm for 7 months.
A portion of the exhibit will focus on the Raika pastoralists of India. The Raika are one of the largest groups of livestock herders inhabiting the western districts of Rajasthan and Gujarat in India, including the Thar Desert. Over centuries, the Raika have developed their own system of animal healthcare “making use of plant, animal and mineral based remedies, conventional drugs and traditional healers,” Geerlings said.
She spent 8 months living and studying the traditional animal system created and perpetuated by the Raika.
“But their current system is changing,” she admits. “Now, even though they are vegetarians, they are selling a lot of their sheep to Muslims for slaughter during Islamic feasts.”
The most recent photo taken for the exhibition was shot in Cairo this month at Manshiyat Nasr, an impoverished suburb of Cairo often referred to as Garbage City by foreigners.
“Here the Zabaleen [garbage collectors] make a living out of collecting, sorting and recycling garbage. I've chosen this image – the street view with roof tops piled with garbage because it tells so much more than might appear at first glance,” she added.
There will be 26 photos on display at the El Balad Gallery in downtown Cairo. Each picture is up for sale.
** The exhibition is showing at El Balad Gallery in downtown Cairo. It opens on Wednesday, July 28.
BM


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