Friday, January 23, 2009

Darren Ell - Between States

Just came across some pretty interesting work that has been shown in the past at Dazibao in Montreal and is currently a traveling exhibition. Wonderful contemporary investigation of portraiture and documentary style.

From the Dazibao website:
Darren Ell is a photographer and activist. His involvement, informed by close collaboration with social justice organizations such as Solidarity across Borders, Justice for Mohamed Harkat and Homes not Bombs, goes well beyond a mere connection to a subject. His close familiarity with his subjects, moreover, is surely at the root of the incredible power of his work. In these large-format portraits—it’s as if he were revealing, larger than life, the hidden face of a society which believes itself to be inclusive, fair and tolerant—there are no victims or heroes. Rather, Ell’s images place us face to face with ourselves. They question our own value system and perhaps our too-passive resistance. Accompanied by a sound track in which the individuals photographed describe their situation, Darren Ell’s work brings the documentary genre up to date.

Mahmoud Jaballah
Metro West Detention Centre, Toronto

Mahmoud was arrested, tortured and released without charge seven times in Egypt’s repression of devout Muslims. His wife’s torture led to a miscarriage. They claimed refugee status in Canada in 1996. A father of six, Mahmoud became the principal of an Islamic school in Scarborough. Relying on information from the Egyptian authorities, Canadian Security and Intelligence Services (CSIS) arrested him on a security certificate in 1999 for alleged involvement in a terrorist organization. The case was quashed, the secret evidence deemed not credible. Mahmoud was re-arrested in August 2001. No new evidence was cited. Mahmoud denied all allegations but has been held without charge or access to evidence since. He has developed chronic back pain, respiratory problems, chest pains, fainting spells and diminished concentration while in detention. The Government of Canada admits that he would face torture or death if deported. In December 2006, he went on a hunger strike to protest his conditions.

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