With the popularity of films such as Twelve Years a Slave and Django, public interest in past injustices is clearly strong. However, what is often not discussed is the enslavement and abuse of millions worldwide today. While it is certainly more palatable to contemplate past transgressions, it is more difficult to come to terms with the fact that thousands are raped and sold every day. Though human trafficking, a primary threat to freedom, has received media attention as of late, it is becoming more prevalent. With up to 27 million enslaved worldwide and January recently proclaimed as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month, there is no doubt that the availability of freedom is a pressing social issue.
Our project is simple, yet pointed. We plan to interview hundreds of individuals from a variety of backgrounds, beginning with this question: “what does freedom mean to you?” This project will investigate the definition and meaning of freedom across borders. While challenges to freedom certainly pose difficulties for cultures worldwide, and the idea of freedom is fundamentally different across cultures, human rights issues are especially prevalent in Thailand, Tanzania and South Africa. Thailand is home to over 2.8 million sex workers, 800,000 of whom are minors. Tanzania is listed on the US Department of State's Tier 2 human rights watch list. Similarly, South Africa is commonly regarded as the main country of destination for trafficked persons in the region and over 30,000 children are currently prostituted in the country.
The Book: With Defining Freedom we are interested in moving beyond the traditional bounds of photography by pairing compelling images with audio captured during interviews. This will develop an increased sense of collaboration with those we photograph while bringing readers to pause upon a single, enriched moment. Far different from many photography books, our ebook will include audio to expand upon our images. Similarly, our print book will include written responses to our central question. Together, these approaches will add another dimension to our artwork.
Perks include the book, a shooting day with the author.