Entry Title: "Ancient Voices"
Name: Dana Gluckstein , United States
Category and Expertise: Social Cause|Traditions and Cultures|Deeper Perspective|Photo Essay and Feature Story|Other_ED|Political|Portrait|Culture|Portrait_P, Professional
Entry Description: Ancient Voices is a new series for DIGNITY: TRIBES IN TRANSITION, an award winning photography exhibition on Indigenous Peoples (60 portraits from around the world spanning 30 years of work). Gluckstein was invited to photograph North American Indigenous leaders, shamans, dancers, and chanters at the Traditional Circles of Elders Forum in Abiquiu, New Mexico in 2013. These leaders shared the wisdom they inherited through thousands of years of oral history and prophecies: how we are being called upon to reestablish the balance of life to preserve our planet; and how world leaders must make decisions for the seventh generation coming.
Story: The DIGNITY: TRIBES IN TRANSITION exhibition, photographed by Dana Gluckstein, explores the theme of “tribes in transition” by capturing the fleeting period of world history where traditional and contemporary cultures collide. The “tribes” are the 370 million Indigenous Peoples who comprise approximately 6% of the world’s population and are amongst its most impoverished and oppressed inhabitants. The DIGNITY exhibition and associated book, DIGNITY: In Honor of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, include subjects from Australia, Bali, Bhutan, Botswana, Canada, Fiji, Haiti, Iceland, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Peru, the United States, and Zambia. The photographs distill the universality of experience that links us all without diminishing the dignity of the individual. DIGNITY, in association with Amnesty International for their 50th anniversary, helped create the “tipping point” for President Obama to adopt the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In 2011, DIGNITY exhibited at the U.N. in Geneva in 2011. Gluckstein spoke at the World Economic Forum, 2013, in Davos, Switzerland on how art can impact change in the world. The DIGNITY exhibition presented at European museums for several years and begins its U.S. tour in 2015.
The Ancient Voices photographs, a new series created for the DIGNITY exhibition, feature Indigenous leaders, shamans, dancers and chanters from North America. Despite their history of degradation and dispossession, they offer a path of healing for their people and the planet. The images portray those who courageously learn their ancestral wisdom and traditions against the backdrop of reservation poverty, alcoholism, and a system that often deprives them of their dignity. The images symbolize the cultural renaissance of those who seek to heal the centuries of cultural erosion and loss of identity that followed the theft of their land. Now they can teach their children to chant, dance, and feel proud of their heritage. The portraits pay homage to these imperiled cultures signaling our collective interdependence and fragility. Nobel Laureate Archbishop Tutu, in the exhibition wall text states, “The Indigenous Peoples of the world have a gift to give that the world needs desperately, this reminder that we are made for harmony, for interdependence. If we are ever truly to prosper, it will be only together.”