Artist Photographer Pierrot Men is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the project ‘Fanamby or Challenge’. To see Pierrot’s body of work, click on any image.
I have always been sensitive to all forms of disability. I have always wanted to communicate through my photos a feeling that I could not keep quiet. But until now I never had the courage to approach disabled people, because I thought they were helpless, defenseless people. I didn’t dare approach them too much, for fear of being indiscreet or violating their privacy.
I limited myself to stealing a few images from afar, in the flow of daily life. One day, Handicap International asked me to become its official photographer in my town of Fianarantsoa. It was in 1997, during the first sports and cultural meetings for the disabled. This festival took place in the six provinces of the island and was aimed at all types of disabilities: deaf, blind, mentally ill or paraplegic.
In Djibouti and Namibia, I was particularly struck by the devastation caused by anti-personnel mines. In Madagascar, diseases are the cause of the main handicaps. If not properly treated, they can lead to blindness or serious mental health problems. One of the most common diseases is poliomyelitis, caused by a virus that attacks the spinal cord. Without a vaccine or treatment, tens of thousands of people are often left without the use of their legs. The upper part of their body gives off an astonishing strength. There are hands that reach out, arms that do not want to give in, determination that can be seen on their faces. A desire to assert themselves, or a rage to win.
I am trying to draw not pity but real attention to the problems of exclusion suffered by the disabled. I have understood that being disabled is not a handicap in the strict sense of the word, but a “fanamby”, as we say in our country: a challenge to be met together. A struggle for dignity.
All images and text © Pierrot Men
By Pierrot Men
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