In the late eighteenth century a catastrophic typhoon swept over Pingelap, a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean. One of the survivors, the king, carried the rare achromatopsia-gen that causes complete colorblindness. The king went on to have many children and as time passed by, the hereditary condition affected the isolated community and most islanders started seeing the world in black and white.
Achromatopsia is characterized by extreme light sensitivity, poor vision, and the complete inability to distinguish colors. In Micronesia achromats adapt to their reduced level of visual functioning (due lack of recourses like sunglasses and tinted lenses) by using visual strategies such as blinking, squinting, shielding their eyes, or positioning themselves in relation to light sources.
Portraying the islanders that by their fellow Micronesians are referred to as ‘blind’ resulted in a conceptual selection of images that mask their eyes, their face, or their ‘vision’ and invite the viewer to enter a dreamful world of colorful possibilities.
Color is just a word to those who cannot see it. If the colorblind people paint with their mind, how would they color the world, the trees, themselves? Initiating my visual research in FSM I tried to find ways to envision how people with achromatopsia see the world. I tried to see the island through their eyes. Daylight is to bright to bear, moonlight turns night into day. Flames light up in black and white, trees turn pink, a thousand shades of grey, a rainbow revisited.
Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde was born in Antwerp (Belgium) on the 15th of april 1987. She graduated as Master of Fine Arts, Photography at KASK (Royal Academy of Fine Arts) in Ghent with great honours, June 2012. Her project ‘The Dwarf Empire’ was awarded two Photo Academy Awards in 2012 and the International Photography Award Emergentes DST in 2013. Her serie ‘Samoa Kekea’ was awarded the Nikon Press Award 2014 for most promising young photographer. ‘Snow White’ received the Nuwork Award for Photographic Excellence. The British Journal of Photography selected De Wilde as one of ‘the best emerging talents from around the world’ in 2014. Since 2013 De Wilde is working for ‘De Volkskrant’ in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The Grant judges also chose to highly commend the work of French/Danish photographer Cecile Semtana Baudier, for her work "Diaspora", which explores the 1.38 million citizens of African descent in Mexico. In 2015, the Mexican government finally recognized this population, signifying a tremendous victory for the AfroMexican community who had up to that moment largely gone unnoticed on the margins of Mexican society. 'Diaspora' is the start of a longterm photo project, focusing on the African IDentity within Afrocommunities in the Americas and in Europe. Diaspora will be published as a book by danish publishing company “Aristo bogforlag”.
Cecile Semtana Baudier is currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She graduated from Fatamorgana; The Danish School of Art Photography and DMJX; The Danish School of Media and Journalism. She interned for 18 months at Danish national newspaper Jyllands-posten and is now working as a freelancer. She has been published on several online sites and in Danish national newspapers as well as international publications such as National Geographic.
The featured photographer for September 2016 was Firecracker Grant winner Sanne De Wilde