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NEW PROJECT- Walking Walls: A Photographic Journey, for Peace

November 29, 2011 2 comments

This is a campaign on IndieGoGo.com I’m crowdsourcing to make it happen this winter! Click here to see more and contribute!

Trouble with your neighbor? Build a wall.
It’s an old story played out with garden fences in backyards and bricks and mortar among international powers. It’s a political cop-out, but timelessly popular: The Great Wall of China, North and South Korea, the Berlin Wall. It’s easy to draw a line on paper, but what happens on the ground is a different story. What happens to communities and individuals when a political, physical wall divides a land and a people that were once whole?

My quest is to dig deeper and tell these stories in Israel, Cyprus, and Northern Ireland by walking the walls that divide the neighbors who live there and photographing what I find. I will be posting my photography and writing online and creating a book as a culmination of my work. It is my hope that this project will raise awareness about the deep divisions in the communities I will visit, and help heal these wounds by promoting peaceful integration.

Itinerary
I will spend one month in each country. The project starts January 17, 2012. In Israel, I will walk both sides of the barrier around Jerusalem that separates the West Bank and Palestinian territory (about 80 miles in total), and the barrier surrounding the villages of Qaliqilya, Ariel, and Bil’in, noted for their status as enclaves/exclaves, and regular protests agains the barrier.

In Cyprus, I will walk both sides of the UN Buffer Zone that divides the country (including the capital city of Nicosia) between Greek Cyprus and occupied Turkish Cyprus (about 224 miles).

In Northern Ireland, I will walk the length of every Peace Wall that separates Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods in Belfast, Londonderry, Portadown, and Lurgan.

By walking each wall and physically inserting myself into the local landscape, I hope to experience and capture community life in the shadow of division. My goal will be to make human connections and documentary photographs that evoke the sorrows, conflicts, triumphs, and hardships that come from living life in these borderlands.

I already have a network of established contacts and friends along the way, and am still expanding my resources, including working with organizations like Inter-Action Belfast and the Israeli group Peace Now.

About me: Kate Trenerry.Photographer.Writer.
In college, I received a fellowship to bike the Iron Curtain Trail in Germany and the Czech Republic. I spent most of the summer before my senior year on the road, researching, photographing, and talking to people who live near the former border- regular folks, museum founders, even a German MEP, Michael Cramer.

Then, I returned to my sleepy college town and produced two senior projects- a 35-page history paper and a website on the theory and practice of Rephotography- both based on the Iron Curtain and my experience with its legacy. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Carleton College with degrees in History and Cinema & Media Studies, and remained obsessed with borderlands.

A few weeks ago, I attended a Political Geography conference in Lublin, Poland on Border Conflicts. Part of my reason for attending was to determine how I can and should get at this issue that fascinates me: academics or art? After a productive and interesting weekend, I became even more convinced that photography is the way for me to tell authentic stories surrounding divisions and borders.

This project has been in the works for over a year now and I can’t wait to turn it into a reality. This winter, I’m setting out with a simple premise and a difficult question, a good pair of shoes and my trusty camera. Help me get there, and you will help me share these stories with the world.

The Impact
While I was biking the Iron Curtain Trail, I passed through a village called Mödlareuth. The village lies on the former border between East and West Germany, and during the Cold War, it was brutally divided with a concrete wall, watchtowers, and fences, earning it the nickname “Little Berlin.”  These measures were enacted even though the village has only 50 inhabitants.

I was amazed by the history of the village and returned to school, hoping make it the focus of my senior thesis. But when I started my research, I was sorely disappointed by the absolute lack of studies, photographs, anything on Mödlareuth. With a stinging sense of injustice, I was forced to shift the direction of my paper. The legacy of the Cold War in Mödlareuth largely goes unsung.

This project will help ensure that stories like this do not go untold. Too often, political leaders have drawn dividing lines through the heart of countries and communities, and the consequences on the ground go ignored. The sites I will be visiting are already under-reported and largely unknown.

When was the last time you heard breaking news about Palestinians who can’t reach their farmland because of the separation barrier, segregation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots aggravated by the Turkish occupation, or ongoing struggles and prejudices between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland? By photographing these stories and the individuals and communities they affect, I hope to raise awareness of these situations, and perhaps play a small part in healing the deep divisions in these countries.

The Budget
I’ve done the math and finally came up with a budget as bare-bones as possible. I’m willing to sacrifice a lot and do what it takes to make this project happen, but I do need to travel, and eat and sleep while I’m working.

Flights: $800
This should cover my travel expenses between Vienna and Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv and Cyprus, Cyprus and Belfast, and back to Vienna. (kayak.com)

Food: $800
I’ll be on the road for 90 days, and this will allow me to spend about $8.8/day on food. This takes into account both cheaper, shared food for a month in Jerusalem where I will be living with friends, and unfavorable exchange rates in Northern Ireland.

Lodging: $600
This figure is, I realize, quite low, but I feel confident that it will be sufficient. I am planning to stay with friends in Jerusalem and couchsurf my way through Cyprus and Northern Ireland. However, there will invariably be a few times when I need to pay for a roof over my head, and this should cover it.

Transportation on the Ground: $300
Trains around Northern Ireland, busses from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and around the city,  the occasional taxi from the airport to where I’m staying, I’ll have a few other transportation costs once I arrive at my destinations.

Total: $2,500 USD.

I know this is ambitious, but I believe it is totally possible. If I don’t reach my funding goal, this project will go on anyway, but on a reduced scale. I’m dedicated to seeing this through somehow, and with your support, it will reach its full potential! I am extraordinarily grateful for and humbled by each and any contribution. Of course, I am excited to show my gratitude for your help with the array of perks on the right!

Other ways you can help:
Social media is so powerful. If you are inspired by my project, tweet it to your followers, like it on Facebook, email your friends. Help me get the word out! Also, help spread the word about these painful physical partitions that are still dividing neighbors and communities around the world. Simply mention to a friend, ‘hey, did you know that Cyprus is divided by a UN buffer zone?’ Start the conversation, raise awareness.

Finally…

Check out my website complete with portfolio, resume, and blog.
Feel free to contact me with here questions, ideas, comments, etc.
Thanks! And I look forward to hearing from you.

Winter 2012.
Click here to see more and contribute to my campaign.

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