Normality is, by definition, relative. And with the arrival of my successor, I slowly start realizing that my year in Central African Republic is almost over. But I am also becoming fully aware that I won’t be able to share that year, my work, with most of my friends and family, with “normal” people. How could I explain to them that my normality, my daily routine, sometimes has nothing to do with theirs?
A few people will understand, but the majority will either think that I am unconscious and naive, or a brave guy saving the world. Except that I’m neither of them. Our references, our perception of life, security or definition of common knowledge just became quite different over time. And there is nothing wrong with that.
08 October 2013: Displaced cooking in Bossangoa, Central African Republic. [Click on the picture to enlarge it].
Sometimes, in extreme situations, you realize that normality is everything but universal. And that we all learn to cope with new situation, new surrounding. But are we all ready to leave our environment for something new? I have heard so many times people telling me that they would love to travel around the world, to work in Africa or to live far from their comfort zone. But what are they doing to realize that dream? What do you do to be yourself?
A book on my work in Darfur and particularly in Abu Shouk internally displaced persons camp is finally available on Blurb, in two different versions:
It’s a strange feeling to finally see the result of more than two months of hard work and to be aware that I can’t change or add anything now. It is also a bit frustrating to realize that I haven’t taken any decent picture since.
But now that I have a few months before starting my new job (more about that later), maybe it is a good opportunity to travel a bit and to work on a new project. But weirdly, for the first time since… ages, I don’t want to hit the road and would prefer to live for a few weeks at the same place. So if you know someone (association, organisation, school, private, etc…) who could be interested to use my skills (computer science, photography and public relation/communication) in South America (so than I can practice/improve my Spanish), let me know asap. Thanks!
17 May 2012: Somewhere in the Saône-et-Loire department, France (thanks Bro 😉 )
01 May 2012: Sitges, next to Barcelona, Spain.
Although I initially wanted to slightly improve the layout of my book before printing and publishing it, I finally decided to show my last big photo project in Darfur. This book was submitted as a final project for my MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography.
Between September and November 2011, I spent a lot of time in Abu Shouk internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp, in an attempt to show another reality in Darfur.
Despite the ongoing armed confrontations, many IDPs do not want to stay passive, just waiting to return home, relying on the largesse of the international community. Step by step, they have slowly and resolutely taken their lives into their own hands, learning new skills, using the resources at their disposal, building and hoping for a better future.
Fleeing from conflict and living in camps that were supposed to be temporary, they are trying to bring some semblance of stability into their lives, by existing between war and peace.
A book should be soon available on Blurb.
[EDIT:] My book is available on Blurb, in two different versions:
Last sprint before the end of my Master’s. I should submit my critical report in one week and the finalize version of my book in two. Everything would be fine if I didn’t have to take a few last pictures and if I was not completely exhausted. Unfortunately, it is not going to improve, as I also will have to start my check-out. If only I could go to South East Asia right after, to empty my head and fill it with internal silence.
27 October 2011: Darfuri women learning about food processing in Abu Shouk Women Center. [Click on the picture to enlarge it].
Due to some recent incidents, my big project is not progressing as much as I would like to. And although I was supposed to be in Switzerland, celebrating the wedding of a close friend, I’m stuck in Sudan. By chance, after one month in El Fasher, working on different photo assignments, I’ve been sent to Khartoum for two days. At least, it gives me some time and space for pampering in a nice hotel. Next stop… Switzerland. In 6 weeks… Inch’allah.
09 October 2011: A classroom in Abu Shouk IDP camp. Schoolboys and girls seat on the floor, on a thin carpet and can be up to 100 per class. [Click on the picture to enlarge it].
After a long long week waiting, I finally got the authorization needed to continue my projet. There is a lot of work ahead, but it’s a good step. May the coming days be as productive …
03 October 2011: Mohamed Ishad, 27 years old. He left his village in Jebel Marra and his studies of the Holy Coran to come to Abu Shouk IDP camp. He now has his own shop, where he sells shoes. [Click on the picture to enlarge it].
A Tight Spot [To the Victor – The Spoils!] by Flashman (with Fred Deakin, member of Lemon Jelly)
27 September 2011: Vendor in Abu Shouk IDP camp, North Darfur. [Click on the picture to enlarge it].
18 September 2011: Mahedin, 18 years old, butcher. Knowing how to slaughter and dismember goats and cows, he decided to try with camels and is now one of the two only butchers killing and preparing camel’s meat in the IDP camp he lives. [Click on the picture to enlarge it].
After almost three months shooting mostly meetings, resulting in a serious lack of inspiration and creativity, I’m back to the field with a very exciting project. It’s quite challenging, sometime frustrating when I can not get what I want, but it’s a real pleasure to shoot again and to try to present something different. Final result in a few short months.
20 September 2011: Ahmedhay Ahmed, 25 years old, farmer in North Darfur. [Click on the picture to enlarge it].
First of all, I finally spent some time to improve and rearrange my website. I now officially have my domain name olivierchassot.com and it should be a bit easier to follow my work. Moreover, although I like zenfolio, I started to be seriously annoyed to have their banner squatting my website. So hopefully everything should be fine now. If not, please let me know.
Then, Perpignan’side effects are still affecting me and I feel more motivated than ever to take photographs, push my limits and to hopefully capture something different to present for my Master’s. Once again, I miss a bookstore to spend some time looking for inspiration.
13 September 2011: Abu Shouk Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.[Click on the picture to enlarge it].
And finally, after a bit more than two weeks with my new Macbook Air 11 inches, I can confirm that it is a great laptop, especially for people frequently traveling and who need a light, small but still powerful and ergonomically usable computer (once you’ve started working with a Macbook Pro or a Magic mouse, it is impossible to return to a Netbook’s touchpad). Of course, a Macbook Pro 15 inches is way more confortable to write documents or process pictures. But you can not have everything and, compare to a MBA, a MBP becomes VERY bulky and heavy. So my MBA will spend some time in my bag while my MBP will enjoy a bit more my desk(s).
15 September 2011: Slaughterhouse, Abu Shouk Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. [Click on the picture to enlarge it].