Gambia Photography Exhibition opening night: ‘Portraits to Remember’ -victims, and resisters

Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow – executive secretary of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), The Gambia. Image © Jason Florio

March 5th, 2019 – opening night of ‘Portraits to Remember’ at the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, the Gambia.

Jason Florio’s portraits, featured in the exhibition, are part of an on-going body of work which began over two years ago when he photographed Gambians who had exiled themselves, in fear of their lives, from the brutal regime of former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh.

Victim of rape and beatings by Gambian security forces, The Gambia - portrait by Jason Florio
Bintu was detained for five days, beaten and raped by three masked security officers at the Gambia Police Intervention Unit (PIU) HQ, after being arrested during a May 9th 2016 rally to demand the release of illegally detained protesters from previous rallies held on April 15th/16th, 2016. When asked if she would prefer that we keep her identity anonymous her adamant reply was “No, this was done to me, and I want justice…these men should be punished” From the series ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime‘ ©Jason Florio

‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime’

Oumie Jagne was shot twice in the arm by Gambian security forces during a peacful protests by students on April 10th 2000 © Jason Florio Gambia
Oumie Jagne was shot twice in the arm by Gambian security forces during a peacful protests by students on April 10th 2000 © Jason Florio

Oumie Jagne was shot twice in the arm by former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s security forces after she was caught up in student protests in April 10/11 2000. She was at her small shop when the shooting of unarmed students began and attempted to help a young girl who had been shot in the foot. While pulling the girl to safety, Oumie was fired upon and suffered life-changing injuries, almost severing her left arm. She is one of hundreds of victims registered at the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations.

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Opening night photography exhibition – portraits by Jason Florio. Image ©Jason Florio
Kafo Bayo (pictured below, at the exhibition opening night, seated below his portrait) was part of the April 14th, 2016 peaceful protest lead by Solo Sandeng for electoral reform. Bayo along with a number of other demonstrators was held for eight months subjected to torture and abuse by President Jammeh’s security forces, including being bound face down on a table and beaten by masked men Former seaman, masoner and political activist Kafo Bayo was arrested, tortured and jailed at Mile 2 prison after being arrested during the April 14th 2016 protests for electoral reform in the Gambia. From the series ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime‘  © Jason Florio

 ‘Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime’

From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia, West Africa, as his own personal fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition, with brutality.

His personal hit squad and intelligence agency carried out tortures, and assassinations with impunity – journalists were gunned down and disappeared, ministers were jailed, students shot in cold blood, and even his own brother and sister were murdered on his orders.

Journalist wearing a t-shirt with the face of assassinated journalist and co-founder of The Point newspaper Deyda Hydara. Hydara was an advocate of press freedom and a fierce critic of the government of President Yahya Jammeh, who was openly hostile to Gambian journalists and the media. Hydara was gunned down by assailants in his car as he was returning from work in 2004. From the series ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime‘  ©Jason Florio
Helen Jones-Florio talks with representatives of TRIAL International at the exhibition opening night, about her work on the portrait project with Jason. Image © Jason Florio.

With Jammeh’s 2016 election defeat, he went into exile after a standoff with regional forces, and the victims of his regime started to come forward.

So far, almost 1000 victims and their families have registered with the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations to share their stories and help build international support to bring Jammeh to justice

Opening night photography exhibition: Three of the subjects of – Jason Florio’s portraits. Image ©Jason Florio
For three days I did not know who I was…where I was. My clothes, they looked like, you know, like a butchers… (covered in blood) Kafo Bayo
Left: Photographer, Jason Florio, with some of the victims and resister who are portrayed in his photography on exhibit. Image © Helen Jones-Florio.
Ya Mammie Ceesay stands next to Jason Florio’s portrait of her. Image © Jason Florio.

Ya Mammie Ceesay, mother of disappeared Gambian-American businessman Alhaji Mamut Ceesay. Alhaji returned to the Gambia in 2013 with his friend Ebou Jobe to set up a business, but they were allegedly robbed of their money by National Intelligence Agency heads, who later told President Jammeh the businessmen were in the Gambia to overthrow his regime. The two were then allegedly murdered on Jammeh’s command.

Sharon Wardle, the British High Commissioner to The Gambia, with Ayeshah Jammeh (also one of the subjects of Jason Florio’s portraits of victims and resisters of a regime), one of the founder of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations. Image ©Jason Florio.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words – compelling images & personal accounts at the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations – “Portraits to Remember” exhibition. Sharon Wardle, British High Commissioner to The Gambia

To see more from Jason Florio’s series, please visit the website ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime‘, a work-in-progress with Helen Jones-Florio.

 

Jason Florio’s work is towards under-reported stories about people living on the margins of society and human rights. His work has been recognised with a number of awards, including The Magnum Photography Award 2017 for his work on migration. He was the first recipient of the Aperture Foundation grant to produce Aperture’s first ever assigned story, ‘This is Libya’. His work is held in a number of public and private collections and has been presented in solo and joint exhibitions in USA, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

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Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio, standing in front of the banner for the exhibition, outside the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, the Gambia. Image by Buba Bah.

Opening night at ‘Photos Tell Stories’ exhibition – Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians

The opening night for ‘Photos Tell Stories – photographs of The Gambia by Gambians‘ exhibition, at Alliance Française, in The Gambia, West Africa, was a resounding success!

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On the left, yours truly (Helen Jones-Florio), and Josh Shrager (to my left), from the US Embassy, Banjul – Alliance Française, The Gambia © Jason Florio

 

Between us, and our main partners, the US Embassy, Banjul, we managed to get around 40 of our Gambian ‘Photos Tell Stories’ photography workshop students down to Alliance Francaise for the exhibition opening last Friday – including the students from as far afield as Soma and Farafenni –  and Kembujeh, Fajara, Kartong. And, thanks to Didier Martin, le Directeur  of AF, they managed to use their persuasive influence to get GRTS – Gambia TV and Radio – down too.

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Le Directeur of Alliance Française, Banjul, Didier Martin,  introduces the exhibition, filmed by GRTS. Image © Jason Florio

 

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Carrying on with photography – Abdoulie Jallow from our Soma workshop. Image © Jason Florio

 

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Kembujeh students work, Alliance Française, The Gambia. Image © Jason Florio

 

Along with Jason and I being filmed (although I barely sqwaked out the URL for the blog – a sore throat having taken fierce hold a few days previously, whereby I was barely able to speak by the opening night!), many of the students were interviewed on camera too – all very new and exciting for most of them. GRTS’s presence was an added bonus for them all, including us. Also, in attendance were journalists from The Observer and The Point national newspapers respectively.

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Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – GRTS, Alliance Française, The Gambia – click image to view

The response, from those who attended, to the sixty prints on exhibit was extremely positive – particularly (and most importantly) about the quality of the students work. The same question kept coming up throughout the evening: were the students photographers before we taught them? When, in reality, the majority of the workshop students had never even held a camera, let alone taken a photo. We think they did really rather well – and, they obviously listened well to their tutor, Jason Florio, during the theory section in the classroom.

Image © Ousman Bah
Image © Ousman Bah

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Image © Alieu Bojang

Image © Nanding Saidybah
Image © Nanding Saidybah

Image © Nanding Saidybah
Image © Nanding Saidybah

It was great to see so many new, and old friends, turning up to support us all, and those who had seen the posters around and about town, advertising the exhibition, who felt compelled to come and see what this Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians exhibition was all about.

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As the night set in, in the outdoor amphitheater, we then projected a slideshow of images by Jason Florio, from three of our West Africa journeys : ‘River Gambia‘, ‘Silafando’, and ‘Maksutu‘ – along with our short film from hours of footage we both shot whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition

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Thanks to Joshua Shrager, Public Affairs Officer
– our main man at the US Embassy Banjul –  and Ric Yoneoka,   Deputy Chief of Mission, for believing in what we wanted to do when we first talked to them 16 months or so ago; and for sharing this with us all at Alliance Française, for GRTS. And, to Momadou ‘Papa’ Njie, Assistant Public Affairs Officer, for facilitating and joining us on the road for the photography workshops – and for showing us the best breakfast place in Soma!

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Josh and Ric, talking to GRTS about Photos Tell Stories – Alliance Française, The Gambia. Image © Jason Florio

And, of course, thanks to all those who partnered with us – they too had a hand in making the workshops and the subsequent exhibition happen. For this, we are eternally grateful.

However, if it weren’t for our very talented Photos Tell Stories photography workshop students – who had inspiration, during the theory work, from some amazing professional photographers, who contributed images – we wouldn’t have an exhibition in the first place. So, abaraka bakeh, jerrejef, jarama boyeh, merci beaucoup! Please check out more of their inspiring work here. Or, if you are in The Gambia, the exhibition runs through May 30th, 2014. And, Jason and I would be more than happy to walk you through it – just email me: helen.jones@floriophoto.com and we can arrange that.

Now… what next?

Watch this space!

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, Photoville 2013, NYC, SA. Image © Chris Bartlett

 

Exhibition opening night is upon us! ‘Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians’ + West Africa projection of images from Jason Florio

 

And so it begins – at last – the installation process for ‘Photos Tell Stories – photographs of The Gambia by Gambians‘ exhibition, in The Gambia.

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A box bursting with creativity and inspiration – 60 of them in total! Thanks to AdoramaPix, NYC, for their support (PTS’s tote bags by Jekkah)

 

Now… the curating process begins…

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Laying out the images at Alliance Française, The Gambia, West Africa – the venue for the exhibition

 

The all important part… getting the prints lined up, with PTS’s photographer and workshop tutor, Jason Florio.

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Mounting the Fajara students prints from their ‘Portrait’ workshop

 

And, that’s all you get to see for now. All will be revealed, over the coming days. Right now, we are still in pre-production mode for tonight’s exhibition opening : Alliance Française, Kairaba Avenue, Kanifing, The Gambia, West Africa – 6-9pm – it’s free and open to all.

For those who can’t make it, you check out some of the students work here, on the blog, or follow us on Twitter and ‘like’ the PTS’s FB page. And, you can always subscribe to the blog – in the left hand column.

We look forward very much to welcoming those of you who can make it!

The Florios – Helen & Jason

P.S. Lest I forget! We’ll be projecting images, on the big screen, tonight only, of Jason’s photography from ‘River Gambia‘, ‘Silafando‘, and ‘Makasutu‘ – along with showing our short film ‘River Gambia Expedition

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‘Photos Tell Stories’ photography exhibition invites are being sent out! Opening night at Alliance Française, The Gambia 16/5/2014

in Partnership with US GAMBIA WORK SHOP -300dpi_ FLAT

exhibition image_student-1Photos Tell Stories – Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians

+ a projection of images

River Gambia’, Silafando‘, &Makasutu

from award-winning photographer, Jason Florio

 Opening night: Friday 16th May, 2014 6-9pm – Alliance Française, Kairaba Avenue, Kanifing, The Gambia.

Free entry – everyone welcome!

Partnering with the US Embassy, Banjul

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Based on a series of photography workshops, in The Gambia, West Africa, earlier in 2014 – ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘, with tutor and photographer Jason Florio and producer Helen Jones-Florio – the exhibition is the culmination of these workshops, to showcase the amazing, and truly inspiring, photography produced by Gambian students, from Fajara, Kembujeh, Kartong, Farafenni, and Soma.

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‘River Gambia‘ © Jason Florio

 

In the reception area of Alliance Française, the Florios short film – ‘River Gambia’ – will be screened throughout the opening night – which premiered at Photoville 2013, New York, during the River Gambia exhibition.

youtube river gambia
Please click  here or on above image to view

 

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Behind-the-Scenes – Jason Florio with the Photos Tell Stories photography workshop students from Kembujeh village, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Along with exhibiting printed work – around 60 images – from our Gambian photography students, on the big screen in the AF amphitheater, we will be projecting a wider range of the students work from all the Photos Tell Stories  workshops; including behind-the-scenes of the students and Jason Florio at work.

 

Image © Alhasan Bah
Image © Alhasan Bah – Soma

 




The exhibition is open to the public, during AF hours, Fri 16-Sat 31st May

For all updates about the workshops, and our other photography projects, please subscribe to this Photos Tell Stories blog (‘follow’ in the lefthand column of this page); ‘like’ FB; follow Twitter

We look forward to welcoming you on the night of Friday16th May, at Alliance Française, The Gambia.  If you would like us to add you to the guest list, please email helen.jones@floriophoto.com

Abaraka bakeh!

The Florios  – Helen & Jason

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Gambia, April 2014

 

As always, we give a  BIG thank you to all our partners and contributors who helped make ‘Photos Tell Stories‘ happen – especially The US Embassy, Banjul, The Gambia –  Fujifilm, USA; PowerHouse Books, NY, USA; Gambia Experience, UK & The Gambia; Foto Care, NYC, USA; Protronica Ltd, UK; Jekkah – African inspired clothing – made in The Gambia; Qcell, The Gambia; AdoramaPix, NYC, USA.

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Team Soma! the students from the Silicon Institute receive their Photos Tell Stories photography workshop certificates

 

And HUGE thanks to all the awe-inspiring International, professional, photographers who allowed us to share their superb images with our Gambian students, during the workshops (in no particular order – we are equally grateful to all!): Manjari SharmaAmber Terranova; Amy Toensing; Sari Goodfriend; Ryan Heffernan; Ben Lowy; Stefan Falke; Oskar Landi; Thomas Donley; Brandon Remler; Wayne Lawrence;  Chris Bartlett; Robert Goldstein; Henry Jacobson; Heloise Bergman