Familiarity

PhotographerAnita Benjamin
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

This series is an illustration of a changing landscape and lifestyle, and a salutation to the pioneering, perseverance and independent spirit of my ancestors. As a child living with various families at different remote settlements in the Falkland Islands, a small island in the South Atlantic, I was compelled to return as an adult to document those places that had provided me with experiences and memories, which in turn played a huge part in forming my identity. On reflection, whilst the spirit of my ancestors continues, much of the lifestyle which formed my childhood are now just memories.

Story

The images in my series Familiarity were made in remote settlements on the East and West Islands of the Falkland Islands, located in the South Atlantic, 350 miles off the east coast of South America. A place I was compelled to return to again, to explore my relationship with the landscape and people living there, taking with me adult memories of childhood encounters. Experiences that are unique, accessible and meaningful only to me, in that my specific memories that are embedded in this place could not be fully experienced by anyone else. As a child living there an attachment was formed with the land, where not only did the foundation of my relationship with the environment begin, but a connection and belonging was initiated from encounters and activities not carried out for me in any other place. The work centers around the landscape and the small communities that live in the settlements. There, amid the wide expanse of windswept, mountainous, boggy and undulating plains, with unclassified roads, families have chosen to remain living a basic lifestyle combined with manual labour in a harsh environment. They strive to create a way of life they believe in with their preservation of rural life and traditions, a lifestyle that began with the first pioneers in the 1700’s. Whilst the pioneering, persevering and independent spirit of my ancestors continues, much of the lifestyle which formed my childhood is now just memories. Changes brought about by shifts in land ownership, conflict and economics, on one hand provided opportunities for people to own their own farms or homes in settlements outside of the town, but on the other led to a decline in the larger communities and traditions of settlement life. The settlements and their surroundings provided me with a stage on which I could explore broader themes of memory, identity and place. Bringing together my own photographs and archival pictures, Familiarity presents an image of a place and lifestyle from my perspective, an islander, providing the viewer with an understanding and insight into a place recognized mostly as a place of conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom.