Mekong River – Suthep Kritsanavarin

60 millions – one voice

More than 20 years ago, I record a set of pictures on film of blasting rapid on the Mun River, the largest tributary of Mekong River during Pak Mun Dam construction. That was my first story as photojournalist. The river may not my hometown but it’s always touching me in some way when I visit. Today on 21st century I still record the picture of Mekong but by digital camera. In the meantime, government of Mekong countries still propose to make dam that was plan from previous century.

Mekong is known as one of the Asian great river. It support more than 60 millions people along the six countries and it’s the most productive fresh water fishery in the world. Today, the mega-project development like hydropower projects in Yunnan, China and rapid blasting for trading navigation between Yunnan and northern Thailand has change the landscape of river and destroy ecology system. It give effect across boundary between Thailand and Laos. The sea level has reach inland and through the Mekong Delta.

Although the River still rich with natural resources  but it may not long before government of these countries have plan to build at least 11 dams on Thailand, Lao and Cambodia. The Xayaburi dam which was under construction by a Thai company will be the first dam in Lower Mekong. It will block the main steam Mekong without proper study on environment impact. And the second dam; Don Sahong, a small dam that build near the Cambodia-Lao border will have serious impact on fishery.

To these days, those sixty millions in the Mekong still voiceless. They had been excluded when all Mekong government make a development plan that will threaten their life. As a documentary photographer who fell in love with this river, I hope my work will give one voice for the great river.

Suthep Kritsanavarin

Suthep Kritsanavarin is one of Thailand’s leading photojournalists. His award-winning work has been published internationally in: the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, National Geographic Thailand, Geographical, Aera and Japan Times. Suthep has covered environmental, social and humanitarian issues in Southeast Asia for nearly two decades.
Suthep’s work is based on his firm belief that a photojournalist must act as a conscientious observer of society and culture. He has to contribute to social change on a local and global level.  He achieves these goals by working on a project over long durations to build deep understanding on the topic and to establish trust among the communities where he works. Suthep’s powerful images create in-depth documentary essays shot over protracted periods of time on his own initiative and funding.
Recently, Suthep traveled to Burma within a week after Cyclone Nargis that devastated the country. Suthep was able to visit distant areas devastated by the cyclone and chronicled the suffering of people caused by the military government’s actions or lack thereof.  His images bore witness to the destruction, torment, and despair not only caused by the cyclone but also exacerbated by the government.
In 2008 Suthep received the Days Japan International Photojournalism Award and was selected for the Best of Photojournalism award from the US-based National Press Photographers Association. His Mekong photo documentary was awarded a grant by the Blue Earth Alliance.  After the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Suthep co-founded and worked as the Photo Director of InSIGHT Out! Photography Project. The project teaches children to document their lives through photography in tsunami-affected areas in Banda Aceh, Indonesia and Phang Nga Thailand. He is only the Asian Tutor for young Asian Photographers at the Angkor Photography Festival.
Suthep has exhibited his documentary photography in Thailand, Cambodia, China, Japan, Germany and France including; Siphadon Mekong Fishing Under Threat, Kuay and Elephants: Struggling for Survival, Life in Xinjiang, China and Hunters and Monk in Thailand.
Suthep’s images have been used by international and regional organizations for campaigns and education. The World Wildlife Fund, the International Rivers Network and Terra are using his photos from the Mekong project in their campaigns about the impact of the construction of local dams in Laos and Cambodia.
His cyclone Nargis work received the Days Japan International Photojournalism Award 2009 and be one of the finalist for 2008 Care International Award.

수텝은 태국의 주도적인 사진가이다. 그의 사진은 the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, National Geographic Thailand, Geographical, Area and Japan Times 등으로부터 수상 받아, 그의 작품은 국제적으로 간행 되었다. 수텝은 거의 20년간 동남아에서 환경, 사회, 인권에 관한 이슈를 불러일으켰다. 수텝의 작업은, 포토저널리스트란 사회와 문화의 양심적 관찰자로 행동하여야 한다는 그의 굳은 신념을 기반으로한다. 그는 현지의 지역적 혹은 전세계적 차원의 사회적 변화에 기꺼이 기여하였다. 그는 그가 작업하는 공동체들로부터 그가 관찰하고자하는 주제에 대해 깊은 이해와 신뢰를 쌓아 나가기 위하여, 기나긴 인내를 견디며 작업을 진행함으로써, 이러한 목표들을 성취해 나아갔다. 수텝의 박력 있는 이미지들은, 그만의 독창성과 개인적 자금에 의해 장시간 동안 작업되어 찍혀져, 깊이 있는 다큐멘터리적 내용을 만든다.
최근에 수텝은 일주일 정도, 버마를 강타하여 완전히 파괴해 버린 태풍 나르지스의 피해 지역에 다녀왔다. 수텝은 태풍에 의해 완전히 파괴되어 버린 원거리의 지역들을 방문하여, 군사정부의 행동에 의해 야기된 민중의 고충을 기록할 수 있었다. 그의 이미지들은 태풍으로써 뿐만 아니라 정부에 의해 또한 피해 받은 파괴, 고통 그리고 절망을 꿰뚫어 보고 있다. 2008년, 수텝은 the Days Japan International Photojournalism Award를 수여 받았고, the US-based National Press Photographers Association 으로부터 the Best of Photojournalism award의 수상자로 선정되었다. 그의 메콩강에 관한 다큐멘터리 사진들은 the Blue Earth Alliance 로부터 지원금을 수여받았다. 2004년, 아시아 일대를 강타한 쓰나미 이후에, 수텝은 InSIGHT Out! 사진 프로젝트의 사진 디렉터와 공동 창립자로서 활동하였고, 이 프로젝트는 인도네시아 반다아체와 태국의 팡은가의 쓰나미 강타지역에서, 사진을 통하여 그들의 삶을 기록하도록 어린이들을 교육하였다. 그는 또한 the Angkor Photography Festival 에서 유일한, 젊은 아시안 사진작가를 위한 아시안 지도교사이다. 수텝의 다큐멘터리 사진들은, ‘시판동 메콩강 어업의 위협’, ‘쿠아이와 코끼리;생존을 위한 투쟁’, ‘중국 신장의 삶’, ‘태국의 사냥꾼과 승려’ 등의 주제로, 태국과 캄보디아, 중국, 일본, 독일과 프랑스에 전시해 오고 있다. 수텝의 이미지들은, 캠페인과 교육을 위해, 국제 혹은 현지 지역의 기관들에 의해 사용되어 왔다. The World Wildlife Fund, the International Rivers Network 그리고 Terra 등은, 라오스와 캄보디아에서 현지 댐 건설의 충격에 관한 그들의 캠페인 활동에, 메콩강 프로젝트에 관한 수텝의 사진들을 사용하고 있다.
수텝의 나르지스 태풍에 관한 작업은 2009년 the Days Japan International Photojournalism Award를 수여 받았으며, 2008년 Care International Award의 최종 후보에 오르기도 하였다.

http://www.suthepphoto.com/blog/

Location : Street Gallery – 골목길 갤러리 from Nov 1st till the 15th

XYZ Gallery