Elisa Ferrari: The Sámi Way
Argentine/American photographer Elisa Ferrari, has a project about the Sámi, an indigenous group native to the Arctic Circle. She spent a year observing and understanding the culture, and in doing so, she discovered the challenges to this way of life. Elisa explores minority cultures and their environments, including issues of oppression, migration and climate change. Her fascination with telling these stories comes to life in images that imbue not only a sense of place and landscape, but also a feeling for daily life, ritual, and community. After completing this work, Elisa received assistance and guidance on editing the project from James Estrin, editor for the New York Times Lens blog.
Elisa works as a fine art and editorial photographer and has been featured in several online and print publications, including PBS, the Austin-American Statesman, Austin Woman and Man Magazine, Animatic Media, Chevrolet, Gramophone, Lenscratch, Moholy Ground, Road and Track, New Music Box, and New Music Coop, among others. Her photographs have been displayed at the Los Angeles Center for Photography and the Kiernan Gallery. She currently lives in Southern California.
The Sámi Way
The Sámi are an indigenous group native to the Arctic Circle. They inhabit Norway, Finland, Sweden and the Kola Peninsula – known as the area of Sápmi. By tradition, they are reindeer herders who have lived semi-nomadically in this seemingly uninhabitable region since time immemorial.
In Sápmi, controversial matters related to development, climate change, and human rights have clashed in a battle between big industries and the Sámi. Given the ambiguous nature of European indigenous land rights legislation, or lack there of, and the variety of resources in the Arctic, the livelihood of the Sámi is being challenged on an ever increasing scale by various industries yearning to monetize the land.
These images where taken in the Sápmi area of Sweden, where Sámi have and continue to vigorously protest against open pit mining, logging, dams, and wind farms that are currently being constructed on Sámi land. They protest not only to protect their livelihood, cultural heritage, and reindeer grazing lands, but also in the name of the environment, which they feel is their responsibility to protect for future generations.
The Sámi have a keen understanding and awareness for nature and a holistic approach to life reaching back thousands of years. Within the resonance of their ancient wisdom is the call for a more responsible use of land and resources.
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