FUJI X100S with photos by Jack Picone
Photography enables me to approach people from cultures vastly different to my own and communicate with them. It involves interacting freely with other people’s lives, firstly telling their stories on a micro level; then providing a catalyst for communication between different cultures on a macro level. I like the idea that my reportages can be a conduit of communication between different societies separated by the barriers of place, language and time. I see myself as a storyteller, as my photographs are both the ‘visual footprints’ of the people and places I have photographed and my own life.
THE ROAD TO MANDALAY
Mainstream media reports that Burma is in a state of transition and a new era of ‘openness’, which is being ushered in by the Burmese Junta.
The gold rush is on. Government and non-government agencies (NGOs), multi- national companies, small business start–ups, entrepreneurs, evangelists, profiteers and con-men are streaming into Yangon to stake their claim in the (until recently) ‘closed’ country.
It’s the wild, wild East. Neighbouring countries like China jostle for favourable positions to facilitate their wanton agendas and further wealth, Countries further away send their heads of state. Before the arrival of America’s president Barack Obama, the roads in which he travelled were newly laid in a matter of days and Rangoon University where he gave a speech to Burmese students was frantically painted by hundreds of men, hours before his arrival.
Burma has a population of 60 million people and vast natural resources. It could be speculated that China’s energetic overtures towards Burma – in tandem with Obama’s visit – could be more suffused in commercial interests and enormous fiscal gain than democratic reform.
Meanwhile, little has changed for the rural and urban poor. These people continue to live in a repressive state under the heavy hand of a sadistic and potent dictatorship. I saw a land with many people competing for a dearth of resources. Poverty is omnipresent and the gap between those that have and those that have not, continues to widen at an alarming frequency.
JACK PICONE was born in Moree, New South Wales, Australia and is a documentary photographer based in Bangkok. Picone covered eight wars in the 1990s, some several times over, including Armenia, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Rwanda, Palestine, Iraq, Liberia, Sudan, Angola and Soviet Central Asia. He is credited as leading a new wave of Australian photographers that matured in the 1990s, a group who not only reported on day-to-day events but the deeper social issues at hand. This is no more apparent than in Picone’s more recent commitment to documenting the pandemic of HIV AIDS. His photographic practice is characterised by a non-intrusive and unhurried approach with his subjects, exemplified by his work in the remote Nuba Mountains, Sudan. Picone’s ongoing documentary photography involves interacting freely with other people’s lives, telling their story – first on a micro level, then providing a catalyst for communication between different cultures on a macro level.
Picone is a co-founder of Australia’s REPORTAGE festival and the founder of Communiqué Photography workshops by Jack Picone and Stephen Dupont and is a member of the collective ºSOUTH. He is the recipient of several of photojournalism’s and documentary photography’s most prestigious awards.