LANGELLE PHOTOGRAPHY

Using the power of photojournalism to expose social, economic and ecological injustice

Posts tagged ‘abenaki’

This review of my exhibit was by Jack Foran was published in Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v14n23 (06/11/2015) » Art Scene. Artvoice (print and web) is one of Buffalo, NY’s two major alternative weeklies. Additionally, the exhibit continues through June 19, at which time I’ll give a walk-through and talk about the various photos, scheduled from 6 to 8 pm. Wine and hors d’oeuvres provided. The ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery is located at 148 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14201- OL

PORTRAITS OF STRUGGLES

ORIN LANGELLE’S PHOTOGRAPHS ON DISPLAY AT ¡BUEN VIVIR! GALLERY

By Jack Foran

Photographer Orin Langelle’s website concludes with two quotations. From Brazilian educator and philosopher Paolo Freire: “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” And folksinger and activist Phil Ochs: “It is wrong to expect a reward for your struggles. The reward is the act of struggle itself, not what you win. Even though you can’t expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That’s morality, that’s religion. That’s art. That’s life.” They pretty much sum up Langelle’s life and work.

A potpourri of his witness to the struggle photos from the 1980s and 1990s is currently on view at his r1¡Buen Vivir! gallery on Elmwood in Allentown. Including the iconic photo of an unidentified environmental activist, poised on a log tripod construction, arm and fist raised in spirited gesture of we shall overcome, at a training camp in non-violent disruption techniques in Vermont in the late ‘90s.

r2The exhibit is dedicated to the memory of activist Judi Bari (1949-1997), an activist against redwood logging in northern California who narrowly escaped death when her car was blown up by a pipe bomb—following which she was arrested by the FBI on charges of eco-terrorism. The FBI alleged she had been transporting explosives. Laboratory and other analyses discovered that the explosives inr3 question were placed directly under the driver’s seat and equipped with a motion sensor trigger to cause them to detonate when the car was driven, whereupon the Oakland District Attorney declined to press the FBI charges. Bari filed a violation of civil right suit on matters including false arrest and illegal search. Five years after her death her estate was awarded $4 million in the case.r4

The targets of the protests to which Langelle’s photos bear witness range from roadway expansion schemes in London, England, to golf course expansion and development of condominiums on land sacred to the Mohawk Indians, to logging activities within the Trail of Tears State Forest r5in Illinois, to Hydro-Quebec plans for hydroelectric production facilities on Cree Indian lands in northern Canada, to a protest against the Tasmanian Forestry Commission, Australia, an agency that is supposed to protect forests from rapacious practices of commercial timber interests, for failing to do so.

r6One photo is of an activist arrested—in New Hampshire—for handing out fliers urging people to write to their representatives in Congress in opposition to a timber harvest scheme in the White Mountain National Forest. Another—in Vermont—shows Abenaki Tribal Chief Homer St. Francis standing up in court, when he was told he was “out of order,” responding, “No, Judge, you’re out of order.” The Abenaki apparently had never ceded their land to any state or federal government, and continued to issue their own license plates and hunting and fishing permits. They were demanding that all Abenaki land be returned to them. Ultimately, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that all Abenaki claims had been “extinguished due to the increasing weight of history.” History apparently was to blame.

Not all the protest activist photos show protest actions. There is a wonderful portrait of a Cree elder woman, looking ancient and patient—but not infinitely patient—taken during the photographer’s journey to Cree territory to learn about and document the struggle against the Hydro-Quebec project. The second phase of the project, that is. The first phase, the La Grande Project dam, had already flooded thousands of acres of Cree land, displacing resident natives and resulting in environmental devastation such as when an untimely water release drowned 10,000 migrating caribou. The second phase was another dam proposal that was postponed indefinitely following protests in Canada and worldwide. One photo shows protesters in front of the Quebec consulate in London with a banner denouncing the hydropower scheme. The second phase was ironically well-named. It was called the Great Whale Project.

The exhibit continues through June 19, at which time Langelle will give a walk-through and talk about the various photos, scheduled from 6 to 8 pm.

Leave a comment

Source: SEVEN DAYS

POSTED BY KEN PICARD ON TUE, APR 22, 2014 AT 1:16 PM

PHOTO COURTESY OF ORIN LANGELLE A climber on crane protests the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Winooski River in solidarity with Vermont's Abenaki tribe. (1992

PHOTO COURTESY OF ORIN LANGELLE
A climber on crane protests the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Winooski River in solidarity with Vermont’s Abenaki tribe. (1992)

Green Mountain environmentalists, social activists and just folks interested in compelling images of the struggle for justice should check out the new photo essay released Tuesday by former Vermont photojournalist Orin Langelle. Titled “Defending Earth/Stopping Injustice — Struggles for Justice: late 1980s to late 90s,” the historical photos trace various ecological and social justice battles waged in North America, including several in Vermont.

Langelle, a former Hinesburg photographer and social activist, was profiled by Seven Days’ Mike Ives in a February 20, 2008 story, “Shutterbuggin’.” He released the photo essay in honor of Earth Day 2014.

Langelle, 63, got his start in photojournalism in 1972 with an assignment to cover street protests outside the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Fla. Throughout the ’80s, he documented various ecological fights around the world. Then, in 1991, he cofounded the international Native Forest Network (NFN) in Tasmania, Australia, and ran its Eastern North American Resource Center in Burlington.

As Langelle told Ives back in 2008 with his characteristic bluntness, while he can certainly enjoy a well-composed nature photo, “I can also look at a beautiful Ansel Adams photograph and ask, ‘Where the fuck is the beer can?’ Because things usually aren’t that clean anymore.”

Langelle points out in a written statement accompanying his work that many of the campaigns he documented over the years had successful outcomes. They include the global campaign to stop the killing of dolphins by industrial tuna fishing and campaigns aimed at the rescinding of the death warrant for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, a moratorium on the aerial spraying of toxic herbicides on Vermont forests, the permanent cessation of all logging on Illinois state forests, and the end of construction of hydroelectric dams on Cree territory near James Bay, Québec.

Other photos that may be of particular interest to Vermonters are those involving the Abenaki’s struggle for state recognition in the 1990s (below). Langelle’s support for the Abenaki in the early 1990s, documented in this latest photo essay, led to his adoption as an honorary member of the Saint Francis-Sokoki band of the Abenaki in 1992.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ORIN LANGELLE Abenaki Chief Homer St. Francis (right), points finger at the judge who presided over court cases against Abenaki for their refusal to recognize the state of Vermont or the U.S. The judge told St. Francis that he was out of order and the chief replied, “No judge, you’re out of order.” (1991)

PHOTO COURTESY OF ORIN LANGELLE
Abenaki Chief Homer St. Francis (right), points finger at the judge who presided over court cases against Abenaki for their refusal to recognize the state of Vermont or the U.S. The judge told St. Francis that he was out of order and the chief replied, “No judge, you’re out of order.” (1991)

Langelle’s photos, which have appeared in publications as diverse as USA Today, the New York Times, the Progressive, the Christian Science Monitor and EarthFirst! Journal, were taken around the world, from the United States to Tasmania to England to Indigenous Peoples’ territories in northern Québec, Chiapas, Mexico, and the remote reaches of Nicaragua. Langelle’s photography is a project of the Buffalo, N.Y.-based Global Justice Ecology Project, which only recently closed its Burlington office.

Langelle, who spent more than two decades in Vermont before relocating to western New York state two years ago, has largely stepped aside from doing direct-action campaigns. He says he still gets out there once in a while to shoot images when the time is right and the need is there. And, as always, he makes no apologies for photographs that have a distinct point of view, both artistically and philosophically.

“I take my responsibility as a concerned photographer very seriously,” he says. “The myth of objective journalism, where the truth must be counterbalanced by the untruth, has no place in a just society, especially when corporate propaganda already dominates so much of the media.”

View the photo essay here.

Leave a comment
EnglishFrenchGermanItalianPortugueseRussianSpanish