With the support of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund, Maurice Gunning and Alice McDowell travelled to The Gambia in early 2015 to create RIVERINE: 9 Stories from The Gambia.
A quiet, yet powerful revolutionary movement is underway throughout this small African nation – to protect and nurture female health and sexuality across the country.
In a series of intimate photographic portraits, the exhibition explores the physical and internal landscapes of nine women: utilising interviews and ambient recording from their homes in The Gambia. These women have made the life-changing decision to abandon the traditional practice of female circumcision. However, as custodians of the tradition, their actions to cease this practice have not always been embraced by their communities: as female circumcision is widely regarded as a religious and cultural obligation. Also victims of the traditional practice, the women share stories of their own trauma and psychological journey in coming to terms with their past.
Through dialogue and advocacy with religious scholars and the district chiefs of the villages which stretch from the Upper River Region of The Gambia to its meeting with the Atlantic, local organisations have begun to eradicate this practice from the country. The nine women and their stories presented here, illustrate how combining the elements of custom and tradition with education and knowledge, great change can come about for a country and its people. All nine women are forging a new life and livelihood for themselves, and most importantly, a new future for women in The Gambia.
Maurice Gunning is a documentary and fine art photographer, who collaborates with international cultural and academic institutions.
Alice McDowell, is a freelance documentary filmmaker working internationally in the areas of human rights and democracy.
Exhibitions: The Hunt Museum, Limerick – November, 2015. Glór, Ennis – February, 2016, Alliance Francaise de Banjul, The Gambia – January, 2017, 7th World Congress on Women’s Mental Health, Dublin – March, 2017.
‘Riverine: 9 Stories From The Gambia’ is a touring exhibition. To find out if it’s available for your gallery or event, please contact me here!