A John Vink's photo project

In 1994, John Vink started this new personal project:

Mountains, or rough terrain, have always been a refuge, a natural bulwark against change, against outside aggression. Man has always used the mountains to defend and to protect himself. This natural defence, because of the difficult living conditions, has built strong people, aware of their identity, their culture. These strong minds contribute to find the strength to adapt to geographical and climatic particularities by "inventing" practical solutions to specific agricultural problems.

The project "Cultural Heights" wishes to document,through photography, five or six different locations throughout the world, observing the daily life of the inhabitants, following the seasons, analysing the erosion or the strengthening of customs and traditions. The sites will be chosen according to their evocative power and their exemplary characteristics.

Apart from the purely ethno-cultural aspects (strong human groups who protect their identity by being inaccessible), there is also an agricultural (irrigation systems, transhumance, terrace cultivation) and an ecological aspect (deforestation, soil erosion). The strength of the project is its global perspective. The photographic confrontation of several isolated sites in the world could draw lines of force, favour the comprehension of specific environmental problems, allow information to flow into areas where it precisely has difficulties circulating.

Two chapters of the project are well under way:

Biography of John Vink

John Vink was born in 1948 in Brussels. He lives in Brussels. He studies photography at the fine arts school of "La Cambre" in Brussels. He begins collaborating with the French daily "Libération" on a quite regular basis in '85. He starts a personal project on "Water in the Sahel" in '85 and for the next two years travels several times to Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal. He is awarded the Eugene Smith prize in '86 for that project.

He joins VU agency in Paris at its creation in '86 and starts a personal project on refugee camps in the world in '87. He travels to India, Mexico, Honduras, Sudan, Hungary, Thailand, Turkey, Malawi, Kurdistan, Bangladesh, Croatia, Angola between '86 and '94 for that purpose.

At the opening of the exhibition "Refugiés" at the Centre National de la Photographie in Paris in 1994, he publishes a book and a CD-Rom on the subject. From '89 on he works in parallel on a personal project on Indochina and travels several times to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. He is the editor of Themes , a bimonthly documentary photography magazine. In 1995 he becomes associated at MAGNUM agency.

To know more about his work or to have info on how to subscribe to Themes, e-mail to John Vink at 100127.3170@compuserve.com or fax to +32 (0) 2 640 18 50 at the Editorial Office in Brussels.