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In Memory of the Future / Jehad Nga

June 2011


Exhibit opening, screening, & talk

Tuesday June 7, 2011, 7:30 PM
Moderated by Jamie Wellford, International Photo Editor at TIME

I’ve been photographing in Somalia for over five years. In 2006, when I first went to Mogadishu, I met with no resistance. I roved around freely, and shot what I wanted, pretty much where I wanted. Since then, on each of the fifteen times I’ve returned, I find a charged, changed place.


Now, I cannot be alone: an armed group of hired gunmen provided by the hotel accompanies me every step I take. In this and in other ways, I'm maneuvering in a constricted environment. However, the resulting slant this puts on my vision means that I’m peering a lot: looking for the recessed elements of Somalia’s story, through holes in walls, in the dark, and often in places so neglected and eroded by violence, that to witness civil society operating at all is surreal and impressive.


My perception of Somalia is that there's a lot of transition and activity, but no overarching plan or hope for channeling it toward progress. With my photography, I'm trying to pick up a certain ecology of place. By not making claims about the fate of this place, the results are more kaleidoscopic than fixed or pre-determined.


JEHAD NGA was born in Smith Center, Kansas in 1976 and raised in Tripoli, Libya and London, England. His interest in photography began in 2001 while he was studying literature in Los Angeles, and led him to cover social issues in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. In 2002 Jehad went to New York City to become an Emergency Medical Technician while interning at Magnum Photos. When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Jehad traveled to Iraq on behalf of The New York Times to document it. In the fall of that year he went on to Liberia to cover the country’s civil war.


In 2006 Jehad was added to the list of represented photographers by the M+B Photo Gallery in Los Angeles and Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York. His work was admitted into Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts permanent photo collection in 2008. Since then Jehad has worked closely with both galleries and exhibited in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Paris.


Among the places Jehad has worked in since 2001 are Iraq, Liberia, Sudan, Libya, Congo, India, Asia, Alaska, and Central Asia. Since March of 2006, his primary focus has been covering the ever-changing social landscape in Somalia, which led him to relocate to East Africa the same year.


Jehad lives between Africa and Europe.


All photos © Jehad Nga.

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