The Vietnam War ended in 1975. The USA withdrew their troops and North and South Vietnam were reunited. After 35 years, the world no longer pays attention to the drama. But for the Vietnamese people the legacy of American warfare continues. It was a cruel and brutal war that was also extremely damaging to the environment. US forces used the herbicide Agent Orange to destroy foliage that the North Vietnamese were using as cover. Agent Orange contains dioxins that are known to cause cancer and damage genes. The effects of the toxic substance can be seen among Vietnamese people to this day: cancer, immune disorders and severe deformities. According to official estimates, there are 1.2 million disabled children in Vietnam. In rural areas, the percentage of disabled children is significantly higher than in urban areas. The face of 9-year-old Nguyen Thi Ly is a sad example of this toxic legacy.
Nguyen Thi Ly and all the other affected children photographed by Ed Kashi live in Da Nang.. He particularly cares for the little ‘war veterans’. Da Nang was an American base of operations where tons of Agent Orange were stored for defoliation missions. 56,000 of the city’s 800,000 inhabitants suffer from disabilities caused by this chemical warfare. Today, scientific research on the ecological, social and health effects of Agent Orange is being carried out in Da Nang, funded by the US government and aid organizations.
UNICEF supports Vietnam’s disabled children, mostly through donations from US aid programs, to live as normal a life as possible and to be protected from discrimination. With his photos, he wants to show that war affects the following generations as well – and that there is no end in sight. UNICEF supports aid programs for Vietnam’s disabled children, mostly through donations from the US, so that these children can live as normal a life as possible and are protected from discrimination.
In his photo series, American photographer Ed Kashi shows the everyday life of two families who receive help from the organization “Children of Vietnam”. “I deeply believe in the power of still images to change people’s minds”, Kashi describes his work. Kashi especially cares for the little ‘war veterans’. With his photos, he wants to show that war causes endless suffering – not just for one generation.
Ed Kashi is a photojournalist, filmmaker and educator dedicated to documenting the social and political issues that define our times. A sensitive eye and an intimate relationship to his subjects are signatures of his work. As a member of the prestigious photo agency VII, Kashi has been recognized for his complex imagery and its compelling rendering of the human condition.
“I take on issues that stir my passions about the state of humanity and our world, and I deeply believe in the power of still images to change people’s minds. I’m driven by this fact; that the work of photojournalists and documentary photographers can have a positive impact on the world. The access people give to their lives is precious as well as imperative for this important work to get done. Their openness brings with it a tremendous sense of responsibility to tell the truth but to also honor their stories.”
Kashi’s images have been published and exhibited worldwide. Another of Kashi’s innovative approaches to photography and filmmaking produced the Iraqi Kurdistan Flipbook with MediaStorm, which premiered on MSNBC.com in December 2006. Using stills in a moving image format, this creative and thought-provoking form of visual storytelling has been shown in many film festivals and as part of a series of exhibitions on the Iraq War at The George Eastman House. Also, an eight-year personal project completed in 2003, Aging in America: The Years Ahead, created a traveling exhibition, an award-winning documentary film, a website and a book which was named one of the best photo books of 2003 by American Photo.
Along with numerous awards, including a Prix Pictet 2010 Commission and honors from Pictures of the Year International, World Press Foundation, Communication Arts and American Photography, Kashi’s images have been published and exhibited worldwide, and his editorial assignments and personal projects have generated six books. In 2008, Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta was published, and June 2009, saw the publication of Kashi’s latest book THREE, based on a series of triptychs culled from more than 20 years of image making.
In 2002, Kashi and his wife, writer / filmmaker Julie Winokur, founded Talking Eyes Media. The non-profit company has produced numerous short films and multimedia pieces that explore significant social issues. The first project resulted in a book and traveling exhibition on uninsured Americans called, Denied: The Crisis of America’s Uninsured.
"Ed Kashi is intelligent, brave and compassionate. He always understands the nuances of his subjects. He fearlessly goes where few would venture. And he sympathetically captures the soul of each situation. Ed is one of the best of a new breed of photojournalistic artists." David Griffin, Executive Editor of Electronic Publishing, National Geographic.
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