The Long Fight for Kawtoolie
Portraits from the Jungles of Burma
March 8 May 4, 2012
Messineo Art Projects and Wyman Contemporary are pleased to announce an exhibition of 15 color portraits by renowned photographer Jason Florio of freedom fighters and civilians who have struggled for independence in the Karen State of Burma, along the Thailand border.
For 62 years, in what is now the world’s longest ongoing conflict, the ill-fed and ill-equipped people of Karen have been fighting for an independent homeland against the ruling Burmese military government. “The Karen people have been locked in a David-and-Goliath conflict with a powerful authoritarian regime that seeks to push the Karen people off the map. The junta is applying a brutal, systematic policy of murder, rape, forced labor and wholesale destruction of Karen villages,” reports the award-winning photographer.
Working on assignment in the Karen State in 2010, Florio was enamored by the calm resilience of the Karen people, both soldiers and civilians, of who all seem to possess a quiet determination. Florio was so moved by the stoic and serene nature of the Karen people, and horrified by their stories of the human rights violations against them. Self -funded, he decided to return in February 2011, to bring the face of the Karen people and their under reported struggle for survival against the brutal junta, to a wider audience.
The 15 photographs in this exhibit range from young volunteer freedom fighters to elderly Karen women and men, all of whom have known little or no peace in their lifetimes.
Born in London, Florio is a New York City- based photographer who has worked as a freelance photojournalist for the past 14 years. His assignments for such publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times, VQR, and The Times of London have taken him to the far corners of the world. He focuses on stories that seek to reveal the unseen and offer an alternative view of people and places.
Florio is the recipient of the Joy of Giving Something grant in 2004, which produced the first assigned story for APERTURE in its 50-year history: This is Libya.
His other awards include:
Px3 Gold Medal for “WAR”
International Photography Award for “PEOPLE,” a Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society, London, UK.
Florio’s work is in the permanent collections of:
The Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY,
Haggerty Museum of Fine Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Huai’an Museum of Art, China, and online in The Forward Thinking Museum Collection, N.Y.
511 West 25th Street, Suite 504
New York, NY 10001
Gallery Hours: Wed-Sat 12-6, and by appointment
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 8, 6-8
Saw Hser Moo
Archival Pigment Print
30 x 40 inches, Edition of 5
Gregory Forstner: Study for an American Archetype
The Long Fight for Kawtoolie: Portraits from the Jungles of Burma
America: The Third Century