This is not a new story but one that totally blows my mind. Famed photographer, Joey L., walked away from glam life and into the Indonesian rainforest, to capture and maybe help preserve the lives and livelihood of the Mentawai. The behind-the-scenes video is a bit long but worth it and better than the trailer itself (available here).
Taken from famed photographer Joey L’s blog directly:
The Mentawai are a tribe of people living in the rainforest of Siberut, Indonesia. Siberut is a remote island off the coast of Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia. With the exception of owning pigs and cultivating sago, the Mentawai are hunter/gatherers looked after with devotion by their medicine men- the Sikeri, or Shamans. These are the healers of the tribe, who practice a form of animism called Jarayak. The Mentawai also practice one of the oldest forms of tattooing, which represent the important elements in their lives.
The current state of the Mentawai people collectively is much different than it was 100 years ago. There are a few government-established villages where the majority of the population live. The children are going to school, the adults are working, infastructure is weak but is starting to resemble that of the rest of Indonesia- “developed” and prodiminately muslim. However, outside the villages in the rainforest, there are still a handful of scattered clans of the traditional Mentawai. Those in the rainforest choose to live away by choice, and isolate themselves away from the assimilation of the government villages. These small, and rapidly declining number of people still live the legend of their ancestors.
The Indonesian government set up the villages in order to bring the tribes away from their “primitive” and “savage” practices and to “civilize” the culture. Missionaries are plenty on the island and convert Mentawai. In my own experience, it’s important to note that the missionaries themselves are usually peace loving people seeking what they believe to be righteous, so it is very difficult to judge either party. Progress is a double-edged sword, my only concern is that progress does not always have to inspire change by force. I believe that technology and education are tools that can actually be used to preserve a culture, while providing the necessary guidance into the modern world. The clans that remain are enduring and have survived on their own for a long time, but are now threatened and fragile. Although change is inevitable, there cannot be only one way to live, one way to perceive the world- humanity needs diversity to sustain itself.
Have you ever been just randomly walking around your city and seen one of the enigmatic Toynbee Idea tiles in the middle of the street? Maybe you’ve seen this one in Washington, DC, or this one in Pittsburgh, or any of the hundreds more mysterious plaques that span the east coast and midwest of the US and even extend into various parts of South America.
What does it mean?
IN MOVIE 2001
ON PLANET JUPITER
Well, if you’re like me, then you probably think that either a) this is really freakin’ weird, or b) this is really freakin’ cool, or c) all of the above. And if you’re like Justin Duerr, the guy in that picture up there, then you are probably thinking: d) I’m going to devote my life to figuring this out. And that’s what he did.
Last week Durham held it’s acclaimed Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, where dozens of fantastic documentaries are presented to eager audiences over the 4-day schedule. I usually drop into one or two movies each year, hoping to hit a few that look super interesting, and this year, we hit the jackpot. On Saturday, we got last-minute-line tickets to see Resurrect Dead, a Kickstarter-funded Sundance-winning documentary about the mysterious Toynbee Tiles. The feature-length film had us captivated from minute one as the crew – basically three dudes and an amateur film-maker with a camera, set out to discover the origin of these tiles. Their surreal journey took them through all kinds of you-can’t-make-this-whodunit-shit-up clues, including tracking down leads on microfiche, short wave radio, and pounding the pavement in blue-collar Philadelphia neighborhoods.
I don’t want to spoil the mystery for you, but needless to say, this doc was a great story and was really well-told, especially since this was Jon Foy’s first ever crack at making a movie, much less shooting, editing, and composing the soundtrack (all done without any prior experience while self-funding by cleaning houses)…
If you like an urban mystery with more than a touch of nerdiness (and you do, trust me), check out Resurrect Dead. Looks like there may be another round of screenings later in the summer, so look out for those.
Yes, this documentary was made possible by Stella Artois as The Ritual Project. But it has nothing to do with beer. Instead, it gives a beautiful and magical insight to the slowly dying art of sign painting. Shot and directed by Malcom Murray (who also created a stunning travel documentary on Laos), viewers get transported high up in the sky—to witness the craft and courage, the calm and collected and talent of these quiet artists.
Vans and the places where they were is a photography collection of retro vans created by photographer and filmmaker Joe Stevens. Joe started the project in 1996, and over the years he has noticed a big decrease in the amount of these clunkers on the roads. I’m going to be sad when they disappear entirely. Check out the website for more cool photos!