All photographs © Orin Langelle
Protest Against Climate Change (2011)
Durban, South Africa: On 3 December 2011 thousands of people marched in protest of the 2011 United Nations Climate Conference in Durban.
Nicknamed by activists as “The Durban Disaster,” at one point it appeared that the climate talks might actually collapse, but a small cabal of countries held exclusive closed-door talks over the final days to create the Durban Platform. This platform was described by carbon analyst Matteo Mazzoni as “an agreement between parties to arrange another agreement.”
Indigenous Men from the Amazon (2009)
Belém, Brazil: The ninth World Social Forum took place in the Brazilian city of Belém, the capital of the state of Pará and the northeastern gateway to the Amazon. The Amazon jungle is suffering from resource exploitation at an alarming rate, destroying biodiversity and endangering the lives and livelihoods of the Indigenous peoples that depend on the forest.
Considered the people’s alternative to the World Economic Forum being held simultaneously in Davos, Switzerland, the 2009 World Social Forum had the global economic crisis and its effects, as well as environmental and climate crises high on the agenda. People and social movements from around the world attended, including 1,900 Indigenous peoples from 190 ethnic groups who came to raise awareness of the serious plights they face.
2017 CEPA Member’s Exhibit: Exhibition Award Winner
Wounded Veteran at Republican National Convention (1972)
Miami Beach, FL 1972: Wounded soldier from Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in a wheelchair during protests against the RNC. He was one of over 200,000 U.S. casualties in that war.
Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, said about the 1972 protests: “There is no anti-war or even anti-establishment group in America with the psychic leverage of the VVAW. Not even those decadent swine on the foredeck of the Wild Rose can ignore the dues Ron Kovic and his buddies have paid. They are golems, come back to haunt us all…”
Comandante, Rebel territory, Mexico (1996)
Chiapas, Mexico—headquarters for the General Command of the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation): The Zapatistas condemned NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) as “a death sentence for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico” due to many of its unjust provisions, but especially the elimination of Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution.
Article 27 guaranteed people rights to communal ejido lands in Mexico. It was an outcome of the revolution led by Emilano Zapata–from whom the Zapatistas took their name–in the early part of the 20th century.
But in order for NAFTA – the free trade agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico– to be passed, Article 27 had to be eliminated. Its eradication was accomplished by Edward Krobaker, the Forestry Division Vice President and later CEO of International Paper. Most of Mexico’s forests were on ejido lands, which meant they could not easily be obtained or controlled by multinational corporations such as IP.
A Man Bearing a Burden (1996)
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico The graffiti on the wall behind the man bears a political message: Libertad a Presuntos Zapatistas (Liberty to Suspected Zapatistas), a reference to those imprisoned following the 1994 uprising.
Speaking Out Against the World Bank and U.S. (1995)
Washington, DC: Cecilia Rodriguez, U.S. representative of the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation), speaks at a rally in Washington, DC protesting the World Bank’s 50th anniversary and Mexico President Zedillo’s visit to the U.S. In her speech, she demanded suspension of U.S. military and technical assistance to Mexico for any purpose until human rights violations cease. While in southeastern Mexico two weeks later, Cecilia Rodriguez was brutally raped by Mexican paramilitary.
The World Bank is known for offering development loans to poor countries to coerce them into privatizing public services like healthcare and opening up natural resources to outside exploitation.
WTO Protesters Tear Down Fence After Farmer Commits Suicide (2003)
Cancún, Mexico: Protesters tear down sections of wire barricades at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Cancún, Mexico. Moments earlier a South Korean farmer, Lee Kyoung Hae, 56 years old and father of two, committed suicide by plunging a knife into his heart while atop of one of the wire barricades. His action represented the plight of many farmers across the world who are unable to make a living due to WTO-promoted trade rules.
The talks were overshadowed by this act and the slogan, “The WTO Kills Farmers,” and eventually collapsed. The failure of the Cancún talks was viewed as a victory for developing countries including Brazil, India, China, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and other nations.
A-16 Blockade Against World Bank and IMF (2000)
Washington, DC: Blockade during the April 16, 2000 (A16) protests of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, DC. The World Bank and IMF, two of the most powerful financial institutions in the world, created in 1944, are blamed by people in the Global South and elsewhere for destructive programs that have impoverished millions and caused massive environmental destruction. This was the second U.S. mass-action against corporate globalization following the mass-shutdown of the WTO in Seattle in November 1999.
Riot Clown (2007)
Rostock, Germany: This clown in front of riot police was one of 80,000 demonstrators at the opening march in Rostock, Germany protesting the G8 meetings of the heads of the eight richest nations. In early June 2007, the G8 held a summit in the old resort town of Heiligendamm, Germany (near Rostock).
Shortly after this scene, police used water cannons to spray the crowd with water mixed with tear gas during a rally at the end of the march.
Later that week, G8 leaders held their summit behind a 12 km-long fence topped with razor and barbed wire. Their only access into the meetings was by helicopter or boat as over ten thousand protesters blockaded all main roads and train tracks into Heiligendamm. The fence alone cost over 12.4 million Euros and millions more were spent on security.
Police Prepare to Fire Rubber Bullets on Crowd (2003)
Miami, FL: Police prepare to fire rubber bullets on protesters in Miami, FL there to demonstrate against a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) summit occurring there. Following a permitted mass-march on November 20, 2003, police clashed with protesters on the streets of Miami. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, electronic tasers and other less-lethal weapons to attack the protesters. Many protesters and bystanders were injured.
An estimated 20,000 or more marched that day in Miami against the FTAA. Trade ministers from 34 countries had come there to negotiate a new neoliberal trade agreement that would stretch from Alaska to Chile encompassing all of the Americas, except for Cuba.
92-Year-Old Dolly Watson, in Front of Her Home (1994)
Claremont Road, East London, England: Dolly was born, survived two wars, and lived in this home all of her life. Her home was scheduled to be demolished for a new motorway. She vowed to stay to the end.
She was affectionately called “Dolly: Queen of the Street” by anti-road protesters. Watson said of them, “they’re not dirty hippy squatters, they’re the grandchildren I never had.” When the Department of Transport came to evict her from her lifelong home, there was a bitter struggle. They took her away to the hospital and placed her in an ‘old people’s home,’ which she hated. She passed away soon after.
The road was eventually built, and opened to traffic in 1999, but backlash against increased costs for management, as well as the policing of protesters, strengthened other anti-road campaigns in the United Kingdom, and contributed to several road projects being cancelled.
Cree Elder Woman (1993)
Whapmagoostui (Great Whale), Cree Territory (Quebec, Canada): This photo was taken during a month-long documentary and fact-finding trip to the James and Hudson Bay regions of Northern Quebec, Canada. The trip documented stories and experiences of Cree and Inuit people involved in the day-to-day struggle against Hydro-Quebec’s plan to build a massive new hydroelectric dam project on the Great Whale river.
Hydro-Quebec’s first hydroelectric dam, the La Grande Project, flooded thousands of hectares of Cree land, displacing Cree people into flimsy prefabricated houses in new towns away from people’s traditional lands and livelihoods. An untimely water release from this dam drowned 10,000 migrating caribou.
Elder Indigenous Woman with Calla Lilies (2003)
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico: A woman takes part in a march for world peace. The march was led by Bishop Felipe Arizmendi, days before the U.S. “Shock and Awe” bombing of Iraq began.
Man Sits and Listens (1998)
Bosawas Rainforest, Nicaragua: An Indigenous man from the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) of Nicaragua listens as community members from his village discuss the illegal logging of the Bosawas Rainforest in 1998.
Bullet marks, a reminder of the U.S.-backed Contra war, can be seen on the wall.
On the Rio Pis Pis (1997)
Rio Pis Pis, Nicaragua: Indigenous Mayangna traveling by panga (dugout canoe) on the Rio Pis Pis in the Bosawas Reserve in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region. At the time the Bosawas rainforest was the largest rainforest north of the Amazon Basin. Illegal logging has devastated the rainforest’s biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples.
A 1997 action at the Nicaraguan Embassy in Washington, DC to protest the logging of the Bosawas was widely publicized in Nicaragua and led to the Nicaraguan government cancelling a 150,000 hectare illegal logging concession on Indigenous Mayangna land in the Bosawas. Illegal logging continues, threatening the lifeways of the peoples who depend on it.
Child with Mother After Hurricane Mitch (1999)
Posoltega Refugee Camp, Nicaragua: Johana Medín and her baby boy were swept away in the torrent of a mudslide caused when the crater lake of the Las Casitas volcano collapsed during Hurricane Mitch burying an entire village. The mother held on to her baby in the mudslide for two kilometers and saved his life. Some survivors were stuck in the mud for up to six days and had to have their limbs amputated. Others swallowed stomachs full of the mudslide and became sick. There were over 5,000 refugees. More than 2,500 people were buried alive by the mud. The environmental justice delegation which investigated this incident found that logging and climate change contributed to the disaster.
Ayoreo Woman by Her Dwelling in “Concentration Camp” (2009)
Campo Lorro, Chaco, Paraguay: The Ayoreo Indigenous people of the Chaco forest are in the way of development and many have been captured from isolation and confined to concentration camps. Campo Lorro is the largest of the concentration camps. Much of the Chaco forest has been destroyed for cattle ranches.
Before the concentration camps, the Ayoreo were shot and killed from a tower next to the road.
There are still uncontacted Ayoreo that live in voluntary isolation in the Chaco forest that remains intact.
Woman in Monsanto Protest Holds Photo of Baby Sprayed with Agrotoxins (2014)
Asunción, Paraguay: The technological approaches driven by the Green Revolution, including genetically modified seeds and pesticides, have caused degradation of fertile lands, destruction of biodiversity and the indiscriminate use of toxic agrochemicals, also known as agrotoxins.
Most of the soy grown in Paraguay is Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready GMO soy. Other U.S. transnational corporations involved in the soy business are Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). GMO soy is sprayed with RoundUp from the air, where it drifts into nearby communities causing sickness.
In many cases, small-scale farmers have been displaced due to soy production and forced off the land to live in slums.
Life in the Balance (2008)
Bonn, Germany: An Indigenous man watches UN decision-makers from the balcony at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
Scholar, Historian and activist Vine Victor Deloria, Jr., said, “Progress is the absolute destruction of the real world in favor of a technology that creates a comfortable way of life for a few fortunately situated people. Within our lifetime, the differences between the Indian use of the land and the white use of the land will become crystal clear. The Indian lived with his land. The white man destroyed his land, he destroyed the planet Earth.”
Women Traditional Healers (2011)
Amador Hernadez, Lacandon Jungle, Chiapas, Mexico: Women prepare their traditional medicines, which they harvest from the jungle. The Mexican government wanted the community to leave the jungle so they could sell the forests for “carbon offsets.” To accomplish this, the government suspended medical support to the village. There are no roads to or from Amador Hernandez and horseback is one of the few ways to travel the fifteen kilometers out of the community.
When this photo was taken, the Mexican military was scheduled to arrive in four days to forcibly remove the community.
At the UN Climate Conference (UNFCCC) in Cancún, Mexico in 2010, California’s then-Governor Arnold Swarzenegger penned an agreement with Chiapas, Mexico’s Governor Juan Sabines and the head of Acre, Brazil to use the carbon stored by the forests of Mexico and Brazil to supposedly “offset” emissions from polluters in California. In order to ensure the carbon contained in the forests was protected for these offsets, the people living in the forest would be forcibly removed—if necessary.
The people of Amador Hernandez refused to leave and were not relocated.
Shut Out (2007)
Bali, Indonesia: An Indigenous man with his mouth covered by a UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) gag protests the UN climate talks in Bali, Indonesia. The gag symbolized the systematic and forceful exclusion of Indigenous delegates from a meeting with the UNFCCC Executive Secretary the day before. They were also protesting being shut-out from the official negotiations even though it is their lands being targeted for unjust climate mitigation schemes like forest carbon offsets.
“This process has become nothing but developed countries avoiding their responsibilities to cut emissions and pushing the responsibility onto developing countries … People are being relocated and even killed; my own people will soon be under water. The money from these projects is blood money.” – Fiu Mata’ese Elisara-Laula, O Le Siosiomaga Society, Samoa.
Water Is Life
School Teacher, Paz, [right] (2017)
Deep in Mapuche Territory (Chile): Paz, a school teacher, talks about the impacts caused by loss of water on her community. The monopolization of water for industrial plantations of pine and eucalyptus trees has caused a serious lack of water in rural Mapuche communities, and some communities have no water at all.
Tree Plantations are Not Forests (2017)
Temuco, Mapuche Territory (Chile): Alfredo Seguel, of Red de Defensa de los Territorios Araucanía, Mapu, stands by the Rio Cautín in Mapuche territory following a water ceremony. He denounced the destruction caused by corporate-owned industrial timber plantations that deplete water needed for Mapuche communities’ survival.
Fairview Forever (1990)
Shawnee National Forest, IL: Earth First!ers (and Ronald Reagan) blockade the Fairview Timber Sale area in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois by burying themselves up to their necks in the road.
Earth First! occupied the timber sale area for 79 days – at that time the longest occupation in EF! history. The area slated to be cut was rich in biodiversity, a haven for songbirds and loved by the many locals who went there to watch the birds, camp or enjoy nature.
The major daily newspaper in Springfield, IL, the state’s capital, called the Earth First! occupation “a popular uprising.”
Judi Bari, Center, Walks with Support of Two Friends (1994)
Northern CA: Judi Bari was a North American environmentalist and labor leader, a feminist, and the principal organizer of Earth First! campaigns to stop the logging of the ancient redwood forests of Northern California in the 1980s and ’90s. She also organized efforts through the Industrial Workers of the World to bring timber workers and environmentalists together to stop the unsustainable rates of logging in the region.
On 24 May 1990, in Oakland, California, Bari’s car was blown up by a pipe bomb placed under her seat. While still in critical condition with a shattered pelvis and other major injuries, Bari was arrested by the FBI for allegedly transporting explosives. Many believe the bombing of Bari and her subsequent arrest was due to her successful work to unite environmentalists and workers.
The false arrests and illegal search warrants became the basis of a civil rights suit filed in 1991 but not decided until 2002, five years after her death, when her estate was awarded $4 million in damages.
Hands of Standing Rock Spiritual Leader, Chief Arvol Looking Horse (2016)
Buffalo, NY–Chief Arvol Horse spoke about the peaceful encampment in Standing Rock, where thousands of Water Protectors are gathered to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The peaceful resistance was met by concussion grenades, fire hoses, rubber bullets, and beanbag guns. On one night, police fired fifteen canisters of tear gas in two minutes. They used fire hoses on peaceful protesters in twenty-degree weather. One elder went into cardiac arrest and a young woman, Sophia Wilansky, almost lost her arm when she was hit by a concussion grenade.
Arrests During Blockade of President Clinton’s Motorcade (1995)
Burlington, VT: Hundreds gathered at the National Governor’s Association conference in July of 1995 to protest the scheduled execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an award-winning journalist and political prisoner. Militant protests spanned five days. Pennsylvania’s then-Governor, Thomas Ridge, had ordered Jamal to be executed on August 15, 1995.
Then-Governor and former presidential candidate, Howard Dean, called the militant protests an embarrassment to the state. Anarchist organizers called this a compliment.
More protests occurred throughout the U.S. under the slogan, “If Mumia dies, there’ll be fire in the skies.” His death warrant was rescinded, but he remained on death row until 2011, and is still is in prison. He continues his journalism behind bars.
Police Overreaction (2013)
Asheville, NC: During a protest against genetically engineered (GE) trees in Asheville, NC, police use pain compliance holds as they pin a protester to the ground. GE eucalyptus trees are proposed for vast plantations across the U.S. South to feed supposedly “renewable” biomass electricity burners. GE trees are not yet legal in the U.S.
The protester in this photo is the son of a West Virginia coal miner, and watched his father die at a very young age. Burning wood instead of coal for electricity production will only worsen pollution, and is a dangerous false solution to climate change.
Boy Jumping (2005)
Galdino dos Santos, Espirito Santo, Brazil: Young boy jumps in an MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – Landless Workers Movement) encampment called Galdino dos Santos, in Espirito Santo, Brazil.
In 2005, the MST, whose mission is to give land back to landless peasants in Brazil, took over portion of a eucalyptus plantation owned by Aracruz Cellulose, cut down the non-native trees and used them to construct this encampment. They also dug a well, built a community space and instituted an elaborate system of non-hierarchical decision making. The camp was named Galdino dos Santos, for an Indigenous chief who was murdered two years earlier in a racist attack.
Outrage by VVAW at the Republican National Convention (1972)
Miami Beach, FL 1972: Members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) show their outrage as they protest the lives lost (both U.S. and Indo-Chinese) in the Vietnam War. Both VVAW members and thousands of anti-war demonstrators massed at the convention to show opposition to the war.
Kiss My Black Ass (2004)
Ground Zero, New York, NY: Woman stands with placard at Ground Zero as many thousands of activists converged on Manhattan for protests against the 2004 Republican National Convention, the war in Iraq, and the flawed U.S. political system. On this evening, 9/11 families and their supporters gathered at “Ground Zero,” the former World Trade Center site, ringing bells and observing silence. The event, named “Ring Out the GOP” was called to commemorate victims of violence and oppose the politics of revenge.
Many New Yorkers expressed their anger throughout the convention, denouncing President George W. Bush and the Republican Party for choosing New York City for their convention to take cynical advantage of the 11 September 2001 World Trade Center attack.
Ten minute video of additional photographs (after video is Langelle’s Photography statement and his short Biography)
by Orin Langelle
As a concerned photographer, I created Portraits of Struggle to show a glimpse of some of the people and situations I’ve documented in my almost five decades behind a lens. The photographs presented are united by the intertwined threads of social, economic or ecological injustice and peoples’ resilience or resistance to them. Showing how these issues are intrinsically linked is crucial to understanding the whole–to seeing the big picture–instead of compartmentalizing each separately. If we want to successfully challenge injustice, we must understand that everything is interconnected. The root causes of these problems are often one and the same.
I also feel it’s important to uncover hidden or forgotten stories of which many are not aware. My photographs are historical documentation of realities I have witnessed and which must not be lost. There are many truths in history that powerful entities cover up or twist to their own ends; primarily truths that contradict the sanitized versions of reality they want society to believe. To find the truth, it has been imperative for me to seek out these hidden stories and expose the root causes of the problems society faces. To find these root causes, I look not just at the present but also to the past. History is a great teacher – if, in fact, presented truthfully.
Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art says, “Photographs can bear witness to history and even serve as catalysts for change. They can foster sympathy and raise awareness or, alternatively, offer critical commentary on historical people, places, and events. Throughout the history of the medium, photographers have aimed to capture the essence of events they witnessed…”
Many photographers have influenced my work: Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, Mary Ellen Mark, Tina Modotti, Peter Beard (especially his work The End of the Game) and countless others. But it’s not just photographers. It’s the question of why? It’s life itself. It’s war along with the government/corporate propaganda machine that continues to this day. And the new normal: climate chaos that rears its ugly face, more and more encompassing the entire Earth and all of its inhabitants.
I approach my role as concerned photographer by not merely documenting struggle, but by being an active part of the struggle. This has enabled me to garner the trust of many of the subjects I have documented, allowing me access that would not have been possible otherwise. In this way, I have been able to expose the truth that is so often hidden.
My photographs, however, are not merely a chronicling of history, but a call out to inspire new generations to participate in the making of a new history. For there has been a time when such a call and action has been so badly needed.
BIOGRAPHY: ORIN LANGELLE
Orin Langelle is a photographer and activist who studied media and communications in St. Louis, MO and photography at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan. He first studied and participated in activism on the streets against the Vietnam war. His first professional photography assignment was covering anti-war protests during the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, FL in 1972. His photography mainly deals with social, economic and/or ecological injustice. He has been published in in numerous print and online publications, in books and on book-covers, and exhibited in venues in the U.S., Europe, Mexico and Paraguay. While occasionally published in the mainstream press, the majority of Langelle’s photography and activism has taken place while working with non-profit organizations. Langelle co-founded Global Justice Ecology Project fifteen years ago. He continues to be affiliated today as a consultant and photographer. He also directs Langelle Photography and is the co-founder of the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art, both of which are part of the Global Justice Media Program of Global Justice Ecology Project. He previously served as Media Director for the Global Forest Coalition and co-founded Native Forest Network (1992) and ACERCA (Action for Community and Ecology in the Regions of Central America) (1998). As a photographer, Langelle chose the non-profit sector to be able to photograph more freely than in the top-down corporate media sector. He has not regretted that decision. Langelle has photographed on five different continents. In 1988 and 1989 he received awards from Environmental Action Magazine for “…recognition of photographic excellence in exploring humanity’s effect on the earth and action to protect the environment.” Langelle lives in Buffalo, NY.
All prints:14″ x 20″ Standout Mount Prints
Kodak E Surface Silver Halide Print
• Wounded Veteran at Republican National Convention (1972)
• Outrage by VVAW at the Republican National Convention (1972)
• Kiss My Black Ass (2004)
Mounted Fine Art Print 24″ x 36″
Printed with Hewlett Packard Pigment-based ink Velvet Rag 315g (20 mil) 100% cotton base
1/4″ Adhesive Gator Board
All photographs printed by Buffalo Canvas