ARTisSpectrum | Volume 29 | artisspectrum.com
79
A recent trip to Lake Turkana in the north of Kenya put me in contact
with the amazing lake and tribal people living there in extreme
conditions: in a barren landscape, in boiling heat dependent on
fishing in the lake. Among them were the Turkanas, Rendilis and el
Molos, whose portraits I painted.
I also painted portraits of the tribal people of the Omo River in
south Ethiopia, after first seeing photos by the well known German
photographer Hans Sylvester, then traveling to the Omo River with
my family and observing the people personally.
The very existence of the people living around the Omo River and
Lake Turkana into which it flows is threatened by the constructions
of several dams. The huge Give III hydro power damwill dramatically
alter the Omo River’s flood cycle, affecting ecosystems and the
livelihoods of more than 500,000 people, resulting in a human
catastrophe in the region – all for the production of electricity. No
proper environmental studies preceded the funding of the dam.
The river banks will collapse and the water level of Lake Turkana
will drop by up to 30 feet. The water will become so saline that all
the fish will die. The very rare riparian forests and its shy animals
and flora will disappear forever.
Thus my art has acquired a political nature. Through my art and
philanthropic efforts, I wish to make the world aware of this huge
impending disaster, which will result in the loss of the very life
line and thus the culture of so many tribal peoples. I am always
striving to introduce an unfamiliar public to the fascinating, rich
and ancient culture of Africa, to a strange and colorful world. which
appeals to all the senses. Sadly this world is under attack.
Gaby Hahn: Elephant III Acrylic on Canvas 48” x 36”
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