Armed with little but his camera, photojournalist Marcus Bleasdale has trekked to Nepal, Darfur, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to tell the stories of countries ridden with internal strife and violent conflict.
Bleasdale will relate his experiences taking photographs in Southern Africa tonight at 8 p.m. in Campbell Hall, during his free lecture titled “Conflict in Congo – The Challenge of Visual Journalism.” In a press release, Bleasdale said that though mineral wealth exists, the Democratic Republic of Congo is riddled with disease due to lack of outside help.
“The Democratic Republic of Congo has the potential to be one of the richest countries in Africa,” Bleasdale said in a press release. “The inaccessibility of the mining zones and the reluctance of international agencies to operate in these areas allow devastating disease to spread to epidemic proportions. Thousands, mostly children and women, die from lack of health care and sanitation.”
In an interview, Bleasdale said he chooses his assignments based on his own interests in the issues that are affecting a particular country.
“They’re issues that concern me as a human being, so I find the magazines that are interested in sending you there,” he said. “I go to magazines and aid agencies around the world. But the fundamental reason, as a human being, is that I’m concerned about these areas and I want to record it.”
Additionally, Bleasdale said he aims to educate attendees of his lecture about issues in the Congo, as well as to inform students interested in journalism.
“I think if people are there and they’re there as concerned individuals, they’ll be a little more aware as to what is going on in the [Congo] and the way in which their actions are going to affect it. If there are journalism students, or visual journalism students, they can get a feeling for what it’s like to work in these areas and what they see and feel. Hopefully it’s going to be wide enough to appeal to everybody.”
Bleasdale’s eight years documenting the Congo are covered in One Hundred Years of Darkness, a book of his photographs which was recognized as one of the best photojournalism books of 2002 by photography magazine Photo District News, according to Arts & Lectures.
In 2004, Bleasdale’s photograph “Darfur in Flames, June 2004” won the UNICEF Photo of the Year Award. The photograph depicts a refugee child resting with her mother after their village was burnt down by the militia in the Darfur region of Sudan, according to the UNICEF Web site.
Recently, Bleasdale has worked on a project focusing on oil production in Venezuela, Azerbaijan and Somalia and its effects on local populations.