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Nigel Dickinson, Sitay, an eight-year-old Khmer girl

Nigel Dickinson, Sitay, an eight-year-old Khmer girl, is the sole bread-winner for her family. Earning less than one dollar per day, she scavenges in the rubbish dump with her mother’s friends, collecting plastic bags for recycling. She lives with her mother, too ill to work, in a makeshift tent on Smokey Mountain (c. 2006-2009), colour photograph [Blue Sky Gallery, Portland OR, Apr 5-29]

Nigel Dickinson: Smokey Mountain, Cambodia

Blue Sky Gallery
Portland OR – Apr 5-29, 2012

Nigel Dickinson’s photos of Smokey Mountain, Cambodia document the recycling and waste industry of Phnom Penh’s municipal dump, most specifically the people who scavenged the facility around the clock preparing waste for recycling for less than $1 a day.

Dickinson is a British-born photographer whose work focuses on environmental degradation, marginalized communities, sustainable development, inequality, and cultural identity. He has travelled the world to capture socially poignant and globally important subjects.

This series was photographed from 2006-2009 at the Steung Mean Chey landfill where acrid smoke incessantly rises from burning garbage. The site, which opened in the 1960s and closed in 1999, garnered the nickname, ‘Smokey Mountain’.

Dickinson’s imagery is eye-opening and reveals hard truths about humanity. A symbol of world inequity, the gathering of plastics, metals and paper so they can be cleaned, weighed and sold for recycling provides economic sustainability for many of Asia’s poorest people.

Of the more than 2,000 adult and 600 child-labourers at Smokey Mountain, many work night shifts and use nearly a quarter of their earnings to rent lamps for working in the dark. Some of Dickinson’s most powerful images of the impoverished workers were taken at dawn, when thick smoggy air is illuminated by headlamps just before the end of a night shift.

Shortly after Dickinson’s documentation, the infamous site was shut down and the land was cleared and sold to developers as a result of the rapid growth of the city of Phnom Penh. The landfill was relocated outside the city where thousands continue to scavenge in the same manner.

www.blueskygallery.org

Allyn Cantor

Nigel Dickinson, A youth recycling worker

Nigel Dickinson, A youth recycling worker, wearing a miner’ s lamp, just before dawn, on Smokey Mountain (c. 2006-2009), colour photograph [Blue Sky Gallery, Portland OR, Apr 5-29]

Nigel Dickinson, A youth washes plastic bags

Nigel Dickinson, A youth washes plastic bags in a dirty water hole on the edge of Smokey Mountain. The clean plastic bags are sent for recycling (c. 2006-2009), colour photograph [Blue Sky Gallery, Portland OR, Apr 5-29]

Nigel Dickinson, Recycling workers scavenge amongst the rubbish

Nigel Dickinson, Recycling workers scavenge amongst the rubbish, as dawn breaks over Smokey Mountain (c. 2006-2009), colour photograph [Blue Sky Gallery, Portland OR, Apr 5-29]


 Thu, Apr 5, 2012