Category Archives: Travel

Happy 2017

‘A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song’
Maya Angelou

 

The past year yet again has been filled with wonderful people, some personal challenges, beautiful travel and inspiring moments.

Working and writing on my first book ‘In praise of shadows’ has been/ and is amazing in every way imaginable.
I hope to share the final result and many more other stories, with an equal amount of passion as always, in 2017.

For now, wishing you a happy and love filled new year.

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We together

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I’ve just returned from a wonderful visit to Graz, Austria, where I attended the opening of the group exhibition ‘We Together’, curated by Maryam Mohammadi.

“We together” brings together female artists with backgrounds in the Middle East, as well as in Europe and the USA. They have in common that they are critical in their photography and video work with female identities and everyday environments, personal situations, dependencies, gender roles and the political changes in a regional as well as global context. 14 different views on women by women.

My work from ‘Hamida’s camp pregnancy‘ was included among the work by fantastic artists like Boushra Almutawakel, Raeda Saadeh, Sonja Hamid and Emine Gozde Sevim to name just a few.

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Raeda Saadeh danced during an intense and haunting performance at the vernissage, visited by a big crowd. Meeting her, getting to know her work, spending some days with both her and Maryam has been heartwarming. Raeda’s vision as an artist, Maryam’s drive and passion to show the world a different view and get people together and connected is incredibly inspiring. Do take a moment to get to know their work.

Until the 18th of December on view in Schaumbad – Freies Atelierhaus, Graz

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Sick of it all

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Belgium has been rocked by extreme violence last week, with the brutal bomb blasts in the airport and metro of Brussels, killing and wounding so many people.

After following the news that day in what felt like a haze, making sure all my friends living and working in Brussels were safe, I knew things in Belgium will never be the same again. From now on there will be a before… and an after…
I won’t let fear stop me from taking another flight at Brussels airport and when visiting friends or places in town, I will still take the metro. But in the back of your mind, a thought will always, ever so slightly cross your mind…
Will I be safe…

And then today… Another heinous suicide attack in Lahore, Pakistan, killing at least 69 people, wounding hundreds.. mostly women and children. Targeted specifically on this day, Easter, against the Christian Minority of Lahore.
Another attack in a countless number of them that Pakistan has known over the years, where we don’t really hear world leaders speaking up.

Again religion being misused by extremists, to kill human beings who are enjoying an evening out in the park with their families, friends hanging out, generally people having a good time, not hurting anyone. Gone…

I’ve come to know many Christian families in Pakistan and photographed for a while in a Christian community in Islamabad a few years ago. And what I always try to do in all my work is show the person in my photographs. A humanity, shared humanity, so we don’t focus on our differences, but on what we have in common. Rich or poor, black or white, Muslim, Christian or Atheist, in the first place we are human being who want the same things in life.

Why?  How can they kill in the name of anything really? On the basis of another God you worship? Another color of ones skin? Another language you speak? What makes them decide they have the right to choose that another life, another human being is not worth living and you can just kill them off? Just like that…

I’m just so sick of it all…

 

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Unite to end TB

 

Today is World TB day, and it reminded me of an assignment I did 3 years ago with Doctors without Borders.

I traveled to Tajikistan, where I photographed children being treated by MSF for Multiple Drug resistant TB (MDR TB), a very long and hard process for these often very young children.  Try explaining to a 6 year old to take multiple medicine every day that give multiple side effects for about 2 years but which are necessary to get cured …

This year’s World TB theme is ‘Unite to end TB’ and that title reminded me of photographing my first patient in Dushanbe. 18 year old Mijgona, who was the first fully cured MDR TB patient in MSF‘s TB program in Tajikistan, which was being celebrated with a small party.

United in celebrating. A happy moment and hopefully it was a reminder for some of the other children still in process of the treatment, that there was hope.

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© Wendy Marijnissen

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Sheema gi

On this International Women’s day, I want to introduce you to an amazing woman that I am honored to call my friend.

Sheema Kermani, dancer, theatre director and activist from Karachi, Pakistan.

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She lives in a country where women’s rights still have a long way to go. Where some laws might be changing slowly in favor of equal rights, but where implementing these laws is not really happening yet.

She lives in a place where people still look down upon the art of dancing, deemed as unislamic and improper.

All that doesn’t stop Sheema, who is a true force of energy, which is needed to keep motivated in advocating change that isn’t effecting in immediate results. She teaches the Indian classical dance art like Bharatanatyam and Odissi to young women and uses theatre to bring messages of equal rights, violence against women, rape etc to villages all over Pakistan where the majority of the people can’t even read or write.

In an interview with her she also says this: ‘The arts and the women of Pakistan have been the two major victims of Zia’s policies. The state introduced legal and social forms of control over women as part of its campaign of suppression and made women’s sexuality their business. State forces were preoccupied with women’s dress, their movements, their sexuality and their very presence in public spaces. In the name of religion, laws like the “Hudood Ordinances”, “Qisas”, “Diyat” and “Blasphemy Laws” were introduced and are prime examples of laws that devalue women, arts and humanity. The very first programme that was banned on PTV by Gen. Zia ul Haq was ‘Payal,’ a dance programme. But as it happens with anything that is banned, people always find a way to circumvent it. We do not announce our institution as a dance academy. We offer training in dance but call it movement classes. I run Tehrik-e-Niswan and we use dance as a movement for theatre of protest.’

Women like Sheema are an inspiration to me. They breathe energy and power. The power of women.

So… happy women’s day Sheema. Thank you for being a beautiful part of my life.

 

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I know why the caged bird sings

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© Wendy Marijnissen

 

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

by Maya Angelou

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