April 17, 2015
With a sense of friendly envy and admiration I write about Jimmy Nelson a British photographer who has captured some truly remarkable portraits of indigenous and tribal people from all over the World.
Jimmy Nelson was Born in 1967 in Sevenoaks, Kent. He spend his childhood in Africa, Asia and South America. In 1985 Jimmy trek the length of Tibet on foot and had carried a small camera to photograph the Journey which lasted about a year. Following his experience he would become a photojournalist – commissioned to cover a variety of conflicts such as the Russian involvement in Afghanistan and the ongoing strife between India and Pakistan in Kashmir to the beginning of the War in the former of Yugoslavia.
In 2009 Nelson started to work on his biggest to date project, “Before they Pass Away”, which has taken 3 yrs and more than 35 indigenous tribes around the world in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the South Pacific all photographed with a 50 yrs old 4X5 camera. His gallery was shown in Camera Work in Berlin.
Jimmy borrowed funds from a Dutch Billionaire, Marcel Boekhoorn to fund his project.
His work did receive criticisms from Stephen Corry the director of Survival International for presenting false and damaging picture of tribal peoples. Corry claims that Jimmy’s work presents a fictionalized portrait of tribal people, but more importantly it glosses over the violence to which many of the tribes pictured are being subjected and fails to mention, that many minorities peoples, especially tribal ones, are not “disappearing” but they are being destroyed though illegal theft of their land and resources.
Papuan tribal leader Benny Wenda has also criticized Nelson for describing his tribe as “headhunters”, when in fact Dani have never practised cannibalism ” The real headhunters are the Indonesian military who have been killing my people”.
Mistakes made by Jimmy Does not change one fact… His images are outstanding as I type with envy and admiration for his work.