The Big Tent, Scotland’s environmental festival (23rd-25th July) launches this Friday 23rd July in Falkland, Fife with the first showing outside London of renowned photographer Rankin’s ‘From Congo with Love’.
Scots’ born Rankin (John Rankin Waddell) started über-cool style magazine Dazed & Confused with Jefferson Hack in the 90s and went on to photograph *stars* such as Britney Spears, Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, David Bowie, Juliette Binoche, Lily Allen, Kevin Spacey, The Rolling Stones, Vivienne Westwood, Cate Blanchett, Damien Hirst, Queen Elizabeth II, and Tony Blair. So the idea of this fashion photographer approaching the situation in eastern Congo war zone – one of the deadliest in the world with more than 1 million people displaced, and more than 500,000 fleeing violence in the last year – may seem odd, even trite. But it’s part of an attempt by Oxfam Scotland to help jolt people from their complacency.
Rankin said: “I think we have become anaesthetised to traditional photographs of conflict victims. By applying my celebrity portraiture style of photography to the survivors … I have tried to get beyond the statistics and show the human side of the conflict.”
Some 17,000 people are forced to live in the sprawling Mugunga camp on the outskirts of Goma, near the border with Rwanda. “It is crazy that we hear nothing about the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Rankin. “The level of suffering there is horrendous, but it hardly makes the news.”
The festival opens with a ‘private view’ this Fri 23rd July 7.00 – 8.00pm at the Head Zone at Big Tent.
The exhibition forms part of the ‘Moving with Africa’ theme of the Big Tent’s ‘Head Zone’ which aims to change the conceptual relationship we have with Africa from one of aid to solidarity by focusing on climate justice (the reality that the world’s poorest people who continue to suffer most from the adverse impacts of climate change.)
Other highlights in the Moving with Africa theme include the keynote talk of the festival, when on Saturday
(12.00–1.30) Adelaide Sosseh from Global Coalition Action Against Poverty (GCAP) from the Gambia will present on the work of the worlds largest civil society movement for an end to poverty and inequality.
On Sunday 25th July (12.00-1.00 pm) Chikondi Mpokosa from Malawi on Gleneagles 5 years on, in conversation with Oxfam Scotland’s Aideen McGlaughlin.
The notion of global politics being central to the ecology movement in the UK is essential. Whilst we often get caught in nimbyism or spurious corporate-media driven ‘debates’ about climate change, the reality for people in the global south is that there is no doubt about their reality. As the Oxfam slogan goes: “You may think people dying thanks to climate change is a long way off. You’re right. About 5000 miles, give or take.”
All talks are free – tickets for the Big Tent are still available here.