If art is the essence of life, then love and beauty are its expression. One way we express these human sensibilities is by communicating through the visual medium. With the advent of the Internet and blogging platforms, individuals worldwide have been able to convey their love of landscapes full of diverse forms of beauty that give meaning to their personal and national identity. These expressions in turn give voice to the diversity and history of humanity that makes their unique beauty accessible.
Over the last five years, one form of communication that arose in response to this human need is the photoblog, where individuals were able to post photos and essays about their communities, peoples and territories without commercial interference or interpretation. Sadly, as people’s lives inevitably change direction, some of these artists have chosen to remove their photoblogs from the Internet. Apparently unaware of the value of their works of art as monuments to time and place, the collective love and beauty of humanity is diminished by their absence.
My friend in Bosnia recently removed her online gallery of photos documenting the harsh beauty of her home city of Sarajevo. While I respect her right to dispose of her creation as she sees fit, I am saddened by this loss to human memory. As she has an unusually keen perspective on human values that endure through the trials of conflict and misery, her appreciation of love and beauty in the acts of writing and photography and risking all to aid those in peril was something I treasured every time I logged on to her website.
Scrolling through the Minority Rights Group International homepage, I am reminded of the many small contributions to the mosaic of humanity. Whether Cham in Cambodia or Nubians in Kenya, the contributions to love and beauty made by the diversity of the world’s thousands of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities is something we can ill afford to lose.
As we struggle to retain remnants of intact ecosystems under regimes of world heritage and sacred sites, we would do well to remember the love and beauty associated with territories is connected to human migration and the stories they have to tell through their art. Appreciating their art, whether in brick and mortar galleries or online, is essential to recognizing their humanity.
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here