Jimmy Nelson

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Goroka and Kalam in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea; Karo in the Omo Valley of Africa's Great Rift Valley; Kazakh in Eastern Europe and northern parts of Central Asia; Tsaatan in the remote subarctic taiga of Mongolia; Ladakhi in the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir; Maasai in Kenya and Tanzinia; Mursi in Ethiopia.

Above, but a few examples of the people and cultures, English born, Jimmy Nelson has visited and photographed. Working as a photographer since 1987 and after spending 10 years at a Jesuit boarding school, he spent a year traversing the length of Tibet on foot. On returning, he gained international acclaim for his unique visual diary, featuring revealing images of this previously inaccessible country. Soon after he was commissioned to cover a variety of culturally newsworthy themes, ranging from the Russian involvement in Afghanistan and ongoing strife between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, to the beginning of the war in former Yugoslavia.

In early 1994, he and his Dutch wife Anouk, produced Literary Portraits of China, a 30-month project that took them to all corners of this newly opening People’s Republic. On completion, the images exhibited in the People’s Palace on Tiananmen Square, Beijing, followed by a world tour.

Towards the end of the nineties, Jimmy successfully undertook commercial advertising assignments for many of the world’s leading brands. Simultaneously, he began accumulating images of remote and unique cultures using a traditional 50-year-old plate camera. When first arriving at the various tribal locations, Jimmy initially hid his cameras, consciously making himself less imposing by crouching for days in the dirt, before communicating together with a translator or else using hand gestures. He shared tribal accommodation, be it a teepee or the ground, drank their mysterious brews, partook in their rituals and discovered how the rest of the world threatens to change their way of life forever. Mr. Nelson’s goal was to create an ambitious aesthetic photographic document that would stand the test of time.

Successful international exhibits and sales of these images generated the momentum and enthusiasm for the project Before they Pass Away. Elegant and evocative portraits created with a 4x5 camera. The detail attained by using such large negatives provided an extraordinary view into the emotional and spiritual lives of the last remaining indigenous peoples of the world, while glorifying their varying and unique cultural creativity with their painted faces, scarified bodies, jewelry, extravagant hairstyles and ritual language. 

Exhibition H
Before they pass away
Storgata 5

Face to Face
Saturday May 10th
18.00–19.30
Book signing

Talk
Saturday May 10th
Caroline Cinema
14.00–15.00

Portfolio
Saturday May 10th
Rica Hotel
10.00–13.00