Earth First! and “Mud People” present a check to the 1990 Earth Day (Smurf Day) Committee in St. Louis, Missouri. Monsanto was the main sponsor of the event.
The action was the feature evening news story on a major television network affiliate in St. Louis with a reporter attempting to interview a mud person. An Earth First! “translator” fielded the reporter’s questions in English and then translated to the mud person in mud language; the mud person responded in mud language and then the Earth First! translator gave the answer to the reporter.
The rise of social media and the ubiquity of mobile devices allow us access to protests around the world and in real time. However, just 25 years ago – only photographers like Orin Langelle could give society a glimpse of the regional protests taking place in the forests of the MidWest or slums of England.
Starting this Friday, April 3, Langelle’s photography will be on display in Struggles for Justice: Forests, Land and Human Rights – Late 80s to Late 90s. The opening reception for the exhibit is taking place as a part of the opening of the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery and Allentown’s First Fridays.
Langelle, an Allentown resident, has been documenting social change since the 1970s through “concerned photography,” or the idea that photography itself can be an agent of change. He recently told me that while the point of protesting is to achieve a result, sometimes the act of speaking out itself and its documentation can be just as powerful.
“It’s the struggle that’s important,” Langelle said. “Phil Ochs, the old folk singer, once said that it’s not about winning – it’s about the act, to show that the human spirit is alive.”
Looking over the photos from the exhibit, it’s apparent that Langelle’s lens was able to capture a range of scenes, from desperation to absurdity, in the span of just a few years.
In 1993, he was able to capture the heart-wrenching image of an older Cree native woman who was involved in a day-to-day struggle against Hydro-Quebec, the utility that displaced thousands of Cree with the construction of a massive dam project. In 1989, his camera snapped the image of mostly naked people from a group called Earth First! dancing in the New Mexico desert after declaring war on the US.
One of the photos included in the exhibit, taken in 1998, is of a massive tripod that protesters used to block various roadways. However, this technique has fallen out of favor as authorities have learned how to safely bring down the tripod by cutting slices out of each leg in succession, causing it to lower slowly to the ground.
Langelle told me he has seen a lot change in protests over the years, the biggest change coming after 9/11. After the terror attacks and subsequent rolling out of anti-terror measures in law enforcement, Langelle said he noticed a scaling back of protester tactics.
“It’s had an effect,” he said. “But I’m seeing a lot of young people that are becoming a lot more militant. I think there’s probably going to be a lot of protests around the UN meetings in Paris in late November, early December. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen.”
“I don’t want to say (protesters) are going to be more aggressive, but maybe not as polite,” he added.
As far as exhibit visitors go, Langelle said he wants people to walk away thinking about the long history of protest culture and how its documentation can shape that way we look at society.
For more information on Struggles For Justice: Forests, Land and Human Rights and ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery, visit photolangelle.org/buen-vivir-gallery.
¡Buen Vivir! Gallery – 148 Elmwood, Buffalo, NY (Allentown) 14201
The Gallery is open on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., during special events and by appointment – call 716-536-5669
Allentown’s ¡Buen Vivir! gallery opened its doors for the 2015 season on Friday 3 April 2015 (First Friday) with an exhibit titled: Struggles For Justice: Forests, Land and Human Rights – Late 80s to Late 90s. Live music was provided at the opening by accomplished violinist and composer, David Adamczyk.
The exhibit showcases photographs by photojournalist and gallery curator Orin Langelle. The photos document the efforts of people on the front lines of campaigns to stop social and ecological injustice. All of the photographs were shot with film.
The ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery is dedicating the exhibit, Struggles for Justice, to Judi Bari. Bari was a environmental and union organizer in northern California who fought to stop the logging of the last of the ancient redwoods. May 24th of this year will mark the 25th anniversary of the attempt to kill Bari when a pipe bomb exploded under the seat of her car.
Although the bomb was intended to kill her, and did severely maim her, the FBI immediately arrested her while in the hospital. They never looked for the real bomber. Bari maintained she was targeted due to her success in bringing environmentalists and mill workers together to protect the redwoods. She died of breast cancer in 1997, but her estate sued the FBI over their handling of the bombing, resulting in a $4 million settlement.
Together with Burning Books, Langelle Photography and Global Justice Ecology Project will show the documentary Who Bombed Judi Bari? (see trailer below) on Wednesday, 21 May 2015 at Burning Books. Burning Books is located at 420 Connecticut St. in Buffalo, NY.
As Leslie Marmon Silko says in her book Ceremony, “…as long as you remember what you have seen, then nothing is gone. As long as you remember, it is part of this story we have together.”
Struggles For Justice: Forests, Land and Human Rights – Late 80s to Late 90s runs through 19 June 2015
Multi-Award winning feature documentary Who Bombed Judi Bari? is a suspenseful story about people who risked their lives to save the California redwoods and took on the FBI for trampling their freedom of speech. It shines a light on an amazing protest movement that succeeded against all odds – with creativity, music, and humor. In 1990, a bomb blew up in the car of two of the most prominent Earth First! redwood activists: Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney. They were accused of bombing themselves, but twelve years later won their landmark lawsuit against the FBI, proving that officers falsified evidence and intentionally tried to frame them. To date, the real bomber has never even been searched for and remains at-large. Directed/Edited by Mary Liz Thomson, Produced by Darryl Cherney, Executive Producer Elyse Katz, Co-Executive Producer Sheila Laffey, Co-Executive Producers Bill & Laurie Benenson
Moving to Allentown in 2012, concerned photographer Orin Langelle has documented a wide range of topics, cultures, ecosystems and geographies for over four decades and across six continents. The topics represented in his body of work include struggles against human rights abuses, economic injustice, ecological devastation and the oppression of women, as well as Indigenous Peoples’ efforts for autonomy and land rights.
The ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery was founded to present an historical look at social movements, struggle and everyday life. It is designed to counter the societal amnesia from which we collectively suffer—especially with regard to the history of social and ecological struggles, and to inspire new generations to participate in the making of a new history.
The name of the gallery, ¡Buen Vivir!, is a concept stemming from indigenous and other inhabitants of Latin America. ¡Buen vivir! means life in harmony between humans, communities, and the Earth–where work is not a job to make others wealthier, but for a livelihood that is sustaining, fulfilling, and in tune with the common good.
This is a concept slowly spreading northwards and the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery aims to bring this thought to Buffalo.
First Exhibit:Climate Change: Faces, Places & Protest – Photos from the front lines
A new gallery in the historic Allentown district in Buffalo, NY, ¡Buen Vivir¡, opened its doors Friday 3 October 2014 with an exhibit Climate Change: FACES PLACES & PROTEST – photos from the front lines, that showcases more than two decades of work by photojournalist and gallery curator Orin Langelle.
The climate crisis was chosen as the theme for the gallery opening due the impacts it has on communities, ecosystems and human rights struggles. The theme was also timely. The exhibit began shortly after the 21 September climate march and the 23 September UN Climate Summit hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in New York City, and ended on 5 December 2014 during the UN Climate Conference and Peoples’ Climate Summit, in Lima, Peru in December.
Langelle’s exhibit, “Climate Change: FACES PLACES & PROTEST – photos from the front lines,” documents a wide range of topics including the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch in Nicaragua in 1998, 2011’s Hurricane Irene in Vermont, as well as protests and demonstrations during UN Climate Conferences spanning five continents, between 2004 and 2011.
“Orin Langelle may not be a combat photographer, but he has risked his safety and well being to cover peoples’ struggles for a better life, sometimes in remote territories deep in the jungle, in communities imminently threatened by military or paramilitary invasion, or immediately after a natural disaster,” stated Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project. “This gallery will be an opportunity for the people of Buffalo to be exposed to this important body of work.”
The ¡Buen Vivir¡ gallery is located at the offices of Global Justice Ecology Project, which also house the international Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, and Biofuelwatch.
Prior to this show, an exhibit of Langelle’s photos documenting impacts of and response to the climate crisis was held last November at the 2013 UN Climate Conference in Warsaw, Poland.
Moving to Allentown in 2012, concerned photographer Orin Langelle has documented topics, cultures, ecosystems and geographies across six continents, including struggles against human rights abuses, economic domination, ecological devastation and the oppression of women, as well as Indigenous Peoples’ efforts for autonomy and land rights.
Photograph by fellow board member Clayton Thomas-Muller.
Taken at a restaurant in Burlington, VT during the Global Justice Ecology Project’s board meeting in 2013.
Besides being board chair and co-founder of GJEP, Langelle is a concerned photographer, director of Langelle Photography and curator of the newly opened ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery in Buffalo, NY.
Clayton Thomas-Muller is a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, also known as Pukatawagan in Northern Manitoba, Canada. He is involved with many organizations and struggles to protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the Earth.
This was published in the GUSTO section of The Buffalo News
This photograph from a climate protest by Orin Langelle is on view in Allentown’s ¡Buen Vivir! gallery.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Buffalo-based photographer Orin Langelle has documented social and environmental justice movements for more than 20 years, training his lens on marches and protests around the world. And now, he’s putting his work on display in a new Allentown gallery dedicated exclusively to his photography.
The ¡Buen Vivir! gallery opens its doors for the first time at 6 p.m. Friday at 148 Elmwood Ave. Its inaugural show is “Climate Change: Faces, Places & Protest: Photos from the Front Lines.” It features more than two decades of photographs from five continents, including the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch in Nicaragua and various United Nations climate summits.
Future exhibitions will showcase Langelle’s photographs of “struggles against human rights abuses, economic injustice, ecological devastation and the oppression of women, as well as Indigenous Peoples’ efforts for autonomy and land rights.”
“Orin Langelle may not be a combat photographer, but he has risked his safety and well being to cover peoples’ struggles for a better life, sometimes in remote territories deep in the jungle, in communities imminently threatened by military or paramilitary invasion, or immediately after a natural disaster,” Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, said in a statement.
Friday’s opening runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and is part of the monthly Allentown First Fridays event. It runs through Dec. 19. For more information on the gallery, call 867-4080 or visit photolangelle.org
– Colin Dabkowski | News Arts Critic | @colindabkowski | Google+