Francesca Moore – Bhopal: Facing 30
Photofusion – Brixton, London
Exhibition dates: 5 November- 4 December 2015
Launch Party: 4 November, 18:30- 21:00
‘In Conversation’ event with Martin Barnes, Senior Curator, Photographs, Victoria and Albert Museum talking to Francesca: Thursday 19 November, 19.00
Bhopal: Facing 30 is a photographic project in two parts that portrays the site of the 1984 Bhopal disaster today and the people who continue to be affected thirty years on. This exhibition is being held at the Photofusion Photography Centre in London to coincide with the anniversary of this tragic event, showcasing photographer Francesca Moore’s series of family portraits and a full panoramic view of the boundary wall of the Union Carbide site, where the disaster took place.
The boundary wall was built after the disaster in order to contain the polluted site. Moore has captured the entirety of the wall as it might be seen by a local child, each image joining the next, forming a continuum when presented. Moore comments, ‘my initial and motivating interest was in how it represented the boundary between what is safe, and what is not. The site has never been remediated, and the images expose the level of the wall’s degradation, which allows easy access to toxins harmful to human health and the environment. Children clamber over the wall or pass through its cavernous holes – it’s an appealing grassy spot for a game of cricket. From a child’s height you cannot see the abandoned factory within. From this perspective there is no danger.’
Moore’s documentation of the wall is shown for the first time at this exhibition. Juxtaposed with the wall is Moore’s series of empowering formal family portraits of the people in the surrounding slums. Residents neighbouring the contaminated site are a symbol of resilience and optimism, whilst the site represents thirty years of pain and suffering. All sitters are receiving treatment from the Sambhavna Trust Clinic for resulting health issues, including third generation birth defects. Moore has photographed these families in the style of traditional Indian studio portraiture – usually acquired by wealthy higher castes – giving the people of Bhopal the opportunity to register their own dignity, values and resilience. Moore concludes: ‘the people of Bhopal are not victims as a result of their own actions, or simply through poverty; they were subject to a system that facilitated the economic growth of a multinational company, at the expense of life and the environment’. Bhopal: Facing 30 represents those people affected, and who continue to be affected to this day thirty years on as equals.
Francesca Moore is a documentary photographer whose personal work stems from interests in people and the environment. With an MSc in Biological Photography and Imaging, she draws on her scientific background to portray humanitarian, social and environmental issues. The Bhopal: Facing 30 portraits were exhibited nationally and internationally to commemorate the disaster’s thirtieth anniversary and were shortlisted and exhibited for Environmental Photographer of the Year 2014. The project received Special Commendation for the Nick Reeves award for Arts and the Environment in recognition of an outstanding contribution in the field of environmental arts.
This project was funded by the Arts Council England and the partners involved include the Bhopal Medical Appeal, Brighton, Sambhavna Trust Clinic, Bhopal, and Photofusion, London.
There is an accompanying book produced to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, available from the gallery throughout the exhibition:
Bhopal: Facing 30 by Francesca Moore
Foreword by Satinath Sarangi
217mm x 275mm landscape, 152 pages, hardback