#BhopalFacing30 launch is launched at AmnestyUK tonight, 17th November, from 18:30. The exhibition will run from 17th November to 17th December. FREE entry, all welcome.
#BhopalFacing30 Book launch on Wednesday 19th at Housmans radical bookshop. £3 entry redeemable against any purchase, all welcome. More Details
#BhopalFacing30 special exhibition at London City Hall from 22 November until the 28th November. FREE entry, all welcome.
‘Bhopal: Facing 30’ is the culmination of a photographic project that portrays the site of the 1984 Bhopal disaster and the people that continued to be affected, with the book being produced to commemorate the 30th anniversary.
On the night of the 2nd December 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking 27 tons of the deadly gas methyl isocyanate. None of the six safety systems designed to contain such a leak were operational, allowing the gas to spread throughout the city of Bhopal. Half a million people were exposed to the gas and 25,000 have died to date as a result of their exposure. More than 120,000 people still suffer from ailments caused by the accident and the subsequent pollution at the plant site.
The first part of the project depicts the entire boundary wall of Union Carbide, the disaster site. Supposedly creating a barrier between what is safe, and what is not, the images expose the level of the walls degradation, which allows easy access to toxins harmful to human health and the environment. There are cavernous holes in the wall at ground level, steps and ledges that lead up and over the wall, security gates left open, parts where the wall is only knee high. The perimeter wall has rows and rows of residents’ houses backing on to it. Children clamber over the wall or pass through the holes – getting to what appears an appealing grassy spot for a game of cricket. Photographed from a child’s height, who cannot see the dangers of the abandoned factory within, each image of the wall joins the next, forming a continuum when presented.
Whilst the wall represents 30 years of pain and suffering, the residents surrounding the contaminated site appeared to be resilient and optimistic. To reflect this perception, the wall is presented with a series of formal family portraits of the people who live in the slums that surround the disaster site. The portraits reference the traditional Indian studio portraits usually acquired by wealthy higher castes, and given the opportunity, the people of Bhopal could register their own dignity, values and resilience through the medium of the family portrait.
The people of Bhopal are not victims as a result of their own actions, or simply through poverty; they were subject to a system that facilitated the economic growth of a multinational company, at the expense of life and the environment – as if less important or disposable. For this reason I photographed the families with the belief that they are as good as anyone else – as good as anyone who works for Union Carbide for example, or Dow Chemical, who now own the Union Carbide plant, but refuse responsibility for its liabilities, or the Indian Government; or you or me. Bhopal: Facing 30 represents those people affected, and that continue to be affected to this day 30 years on, not as victims, but as equal humans.
Francesca is a freelance photographer whose personal work stems from interests in people and the environment. With an MSc in Biological Photography and Imaging, Francesca draws on her scientific background to portray humanitarian, social and environmental issues.
Joined by Colin Toogood, campaigns manager for the Bhopal Medical Appeal, Francesca will discuss her work in the context of the on-going saga for justice and environmental remediation 30 years after the worlds’ worst industrial disaster.