Christophe Gin: Colonie

Christophe Gin: Colonie


The Fondation Carmignac aims to support and promote works of investigative photojournalism documenting areas often underrepresented in mainstream news coverage. This year’s edition of the Award focuses specifically on parts of France that have become so-called ‘lawless areas’ (zones de non-droit): places where political, judicial and socioeconomic structures divert from those idealised by the French Republic, and where its legal system no longer holds sway.

In response to the foundation’s chosen theme, French photographer Christophe Gin (born in 1965) offered a collection of images delving deep into the territory of French Guiana, an area he has been exploring since 2001. His work documents a series of highly hermetic societies, existing in unique enclaves and governed by their own systems of social codes and laws. This vast natural landscape is the largest French region (equal to 1/6th of the surface area of mainland France), and is bound by river borders linking the area to neighboring Brazil and Suriname.

Outside the administrative control of the Atlantic coastal towns of Cayenne, Kourou and Saint-Laurent du Maroni, the inland regions of French Guiana only became an official part of the region in 1969. Made up entirely of tropical forests and remote villages cut off from the outside world, this untameable area has since encountered significant difficulties in terms of its relation to mainland France and its development, as unemployment and lack of access to education have led to high levels of disaffection and alcoholism among the indigenous population.

French Guiana has been associated with gold prospecting since the mid-19th century, and in the 1990s the region became part of the new global “gold road”. – as market prices rose, the region began to experience serious social and economic imbalance, accompanied by a rise in illegal goldpanning. Poverty amongst the local population and the exploitation of the natural landscape have led to levels of criminality and violence that are amongst the highest in France, as well as significant sanitary risks both for the human population and the surrounding environment. Today, these Latin American regions have become something of a European “El Dorado” operating outside the legal confines of the French state.

Christophe Gin spent five months exploring the landscapes of Guiana, from border regions to the most remote Amerindian villages, where soldiers mingle with gold prospectors and exploited immigrant workers, and where local population is forced to integrate republican concepts.

His photography bears witness to the reality of life in a land full of contrasts, far from the caricatures often presented through the mainstream press. Christophe Gin’s photo report from Guiana will be on display as part of the Colonie (Colony) exhibition, to be held in the Chapelle des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 5 November to 5 December 2015.

Christophe Gin
Colonie
5 Nov – 5 Dec 2015

Chapelle des Beaux-Arts de Paris
14, rue Bonaparte
75006 Paris
www.fondation-carmignac.com

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© Christophe Gin

French guyana, maripasoula, maroni. Garimpeiro. L'Amazonie n'est pas mieux contrôlee en Guyane française qu'au Bresil ou au Surinam. Capitale de l'orpaillage sur le Maroni, Maripasoula, mais aussi Saint-Elie ou Camopi, autres communes isolees, voient se multiplier les chantiers clandestins de chercheurs d'or. Braquages ou reglements de comptes, on entend parler d’exactions. On parle de milices, tortures, expeditions punitives et executions entre garimpeiros. Au pays de la rumeur, la legende s’installe, pas toujours verifiable. L’amalgame est ici facile entre « orpaillage clandestin » et « orpaillage imputable aux etrangers clandestins ». Pompes et pelles mecaniques, les techniques et la main d’œuvre sont bresiliennes, le garimpeiro venu gagner sa vie sur le territoire français est facilement livre a la vindicte populaire. Autour de Maripasoula, la majorite des exploitations dependent de patrons orpailleurs français.

© Christophe Gin

French guiana, Crique Adolphe, Dorlin, Inini. Zone d'extraction aurifere clandestine. En Guyane, l’orpaillage remonte a plus d’un siecle. L'activite se ralentit a partir des annees 40, reprend des les annees 80, pour s’intensifier apres la publication de rapports sur la richesse du sous-sol guyanais. Rapidement les premieres fortunes se font. Certains achetent des pelleteuses qu’ils vendent a credit aux petits orpailleurs locaux, encouragent la prospection illegale des terrains accordes aux multinationales... avant de les exploiter pour leur compte. Ils developpent la mecanisation, montent des organisations professionnelles, creent des monopoles et deviennent les acteurs incontournables du departement. L'absence de code forestier rend souvent inoperante la presence de l'ONF quand le code des domaines autorise le prefet a conceder des surfaces exploitables. Outre l’obligation de respecter un cahier des charges precis, l’obtention d’une autorisation d’exploitation, d’un delai de 2 a 3 ans, incite encore davantage a l’illegalite.

© Christophe Gin

French Guiana, Ibiza, Ipoussing. Concession miniere, "garota de programa". L'economie de nombreuses colonies de l'Amazonie bresilienne dépend de l'activite aurifere et de ses métiers derives. Pendant que les hommes partent faire les garimpeiros sur les chantiers guyanais, les femmes vont faire des programmes en foret. Elles font la tournee des sites miniers pour rejoindre des clients qu'elles accompagnent quelques jours, en fonction de la production d'or.

© Christophe Gin

Brazil, Oiapoque, Amapa. Oiapoque, est le dernier point de passage bresilien d’une prostitution plus ou moins organisee vers la Guyane française. Pendant que les hommes partent faire les garimpeiros en foret, les jeunes femmes viennent tenter leur chance à la frontiere guyanaise. Elles font le bonheur des garimpeiros venus vendre leur or en ville.

© Christophe Gin

Brazil, Para state, Xingu river, 2004. Fluvial supplying of the mining settlement of Ressaca. Brazilan electric consumption constantly grows  and exeeds supplying possibilities. The Brazilian government is looking for a solution in the heart of tha Amazonian bassin, powerfull resource of hydroelectric energy. Brazil speeds-up it's plans to build up the third larger hydraulic dam in the world, on a curve of the Xingu river. This dam will increase of 15 % the hydroelectric capacities of the country. a surface of more than 500Km2 will be drown, 7000 Kayapos are living on the banks of the river. For them, the dam means inundation of their land, displacement of their families deforestation and pollution. The dam would have considerable impact ont the environment, leading to a drastic decrease of biodiversity and the drowning of the land will oblige to displace more than 25 000 people, most of them from urbans districs of Altamira and Vitoria do Xingu. The project has been suspended in april 2010 for unconstitutionality, toward the national clauses to protect amazonian indian territories. this court judgement was immediatly cancelled, the same day in  court of appeal. Bello Monte should start working in 2015. Brasilia promise the first ecologically irreproachable giant hydro dam.

© Christophe Gin

Colonie

© Christophe Gin

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© Christophe Gin

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© Christophe Gin

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© Christophe Gin


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