In March I had the great chance to facilitate a photojournalism-training in Nepal for Global Press Institute. Six amazing female trainees and I worked in an intense week on composition, permissions, ethics and the special moment. The training was great- and the country is breathtaking!
In October the German photographer Mareike Günsche spent three weeks as a guest lecturer in the newly established photography faculty at the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture. We asked her three questions about her stay in Ulaanbaatar.
Mareike, the newly established photography faculty started in September. You were a guest lecturer in the first few weeks?
Yes exactly. The course started in September. It is the first time that one can study photography in Mongolia. And many young Mongolians unexpectedly took this chance. A total of 25 students have enrolled in the Bachelor or Master course.
So there is a lot of interest in photography?
Absolutely. When it comes to analysing photographs and interpreting the visual language the students become lively. Everyone has an opinion, a point of view or a question. The students discuss, question and all this happens with a lot of humour and an almost unlimited interest. And then suddenly the opinions fly through the room like a spontaneously released flock of birds.
What exactly did you teach?
I taught the students in documentary photography for three weeks. These classes were packed and intense. We have become familiar with documentary photography, both theoretically and practically. And until my next stay in spring, the students will be working on their own stories, which will reflect their very own view of Mongolia. You can be excited!
Very happy to facilitate a photojournalism-training for Global Press Institute in Mongolia! Global Press Institute trains women to become journalists. The aim is to increase female and local voices in the media. This makes my feminist heart beat faster!
Very happy to be invited to exhibit at Festival Pil’Ours, France, 01 July – 31 August 2019.
145 female photographers, 435 images, from across 15 different countries!
Can you tell me about your project?
My series “Positive stories”is a collaborative multimedia portrait series that explores the personal stories of people living with HIV to create visibility and fight stigmatisation. The project focuses on presenting a wide variety of personal stories of people living with HIV. This series is a collaboration: a photographic portrait presents the person and the audio interview captures the personal story of the diagnosis, the ways of accepting it and how living with the virus turned out. By letting the person tell their own story the interview is also an oral history creating an archive of stories for future generations. The people I portray are all open about their status; most of them are great activists fighting the stigma of HIV/Aids. The project will show the amazing progress the community living with HIV made towards greater equality through community engagement, advocacy and legal reform.
What is the aim of your project?
I have been working as a professional photographer for almost 20 years. My background is photojournalism and news photography. I was always interested in how photography strengthens and reassures power dynamics, stereotypes and hierarchies and how this could be changed. My passion is using photography as a tool of empowerment and social change, to open the perspective to a variety of personal angles. Therefore, I focus on collaborations and participatory methods. I see this project as a collaboration: the portrayed one is telling their story and I assist and take a portrait in a way the person likes to be presented. Experiencing the pain and struggle of dear friends being diagnosed with HIV I made me interested in the stigmatisation and discrimination related to HIV. As a friend once said “It is not the virus that gives me trouble, it is the reaction of society.” By the end of 2017, 36.9 million people worldwide were living with HIV. Creating space to tell stories of everyday people living with HIV, I hope to stimulate conversation to address prejudices. My wish is that one day taking an HIV test would become as normal as a vaccination. In Germany there are 140,000 people living with the virus without even knowing it and of course not getting any medication. If the stigma of HIV could be erased and people would get tested and treated, this would have a massive positive impact on the infection rate.
Who are you?
I am a London-based photographer and educator focusing on human rights, social change and development. My passion is photography’s ability to empower though imagery. Also I am Senior Lecturer for Photography at the Mongolian State University of Arts and I teach workshops on participatory photography. My projects are either collaborations or participatory, I want to work with people and not tell their story. After working as a press-photographer, I studied photojournalism and documentary photography. I worked extensively for international media and as a stringer for Reuters news agency. I lived in Mongolia for four years and did extensive work in the humanitarian sector working for organisations such as Red Cross, Syria Relief, the German Relief Coalition ADH and the German development bank KFW. My project “Dragkings” was awarded the Canon Award for young Photographers; my series “You Are My Sister” about a Mongolian transgender woman won “The Other Hundred” award. The project, which had the biggest impact was “ Our Voice”, a project that helped to create visibility of domestic violence in Mongolia and contributed to the establishment of a law that recognises domestic violence as a crime. My work has been exhibited in Europe, Asia and the US.
I am very much looking forward to exhibiting my new series about people living with HIV in this collaborative exhibition. Experiencing the pain and struggle of dear friends being diagnosed with HIV made me interested in the stigmatisation and discrimination related to HIV. Even though statistics show that new diagnoses have been declining since their peak in 2005, but coming out as HIV positive is still a massive step. My work is a collaborative multimedia portrait series which explores the personal stories of people living with HIV to create visibility and fight stigmatisation. Please come and join.
More information here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/marginal-tickets-60458237215
I am very happy to be the Senior Lecturer for Photography at the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture. The university created a two year BA for Photography in collaboration with the Goethe Institute Mongolia. This is the first time one can study photography in this great country and I am very happy to be part of this! Looking forward to teaching my first course!
I did another shooting with the amazing organisation "Positively UK", which supports people living with HIV. Thankful for a day of good conversations and a lot of fun!
Great meeting with a bunch of passionated people to discuss the future of the Syria response. Thank you all!
Technology is amazing! Facilitating a workshop on "Positive visual language" with Syria Relief in Gaziantep, while photographers from Idlib participate via skype. Thanks to everyone for great discussions and collaboration!
(Due to the safety and security of the participants I will not publish images where they can be identified.)
And here it is! Refugees based in Berlin meet regularly to cook their favourite meals from their countries and enjoy them together - which allowed me to take pictures for this great collaborative calendar. I met amazing people and had the pleasure to taste delicious dishes from all over the world. Thanks to everybody and to Berliner Stadtmission! It was a feast!
As most of you may know, I am doing two pro-bono projects each year.
With this I will support NGOs and organizations that don't have the funding to create a wide visibility but do very important work.
And that's where you come in: send me an Email, tell me which NGO I should support this year and tell me why.
Thanks for your ideas!
I am really happy about the great article about me on the homepage of “Gründerinnenzentrale”. This network supports women on their way to establishing their own businesses. And it is an amazing space to meet and talk with interesting people. Thanks a lot for this support!