Veil of Secrecy lifted on Somali Community

Published: Tue 29 Nov 2005 11:34 AM
Images by Mark Hamilton

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"Driving to Westfield"

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"One Dollar Sausage"

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"Cousins and Classmates"
Veil of Secrecy lifted on Somali Community
29 NOVEMBER 2005
For Immediate Release
In a national first, one of New Zealand’s newest and most misunderstood communities is the focus of a social photography project due to open at the Waikato Museum on December 3.
The show, entitled ‘Rare View’, explores Hamilton’s Somali community through a series of large photographs and personal items.
The show, which features on TV One’s Close Up at 7 this week, has been a collaborative effort between the Waikato Museum, photographer Mark Hamilton and the community itself.
In light of attacks on a mosque and the forced closure of a business that employed many Somali in Hamilton, the community were keen to show New Zealanders that they have to earn a living, go to school, cook dinner and beat their class mate at soccer, just like everyone else, but in ways that are true to their cultural heritage.
As a result of being involved in this project, the show’s concept leader and curator Crystal Ardern has shared meals with the community, gone to the mosque and attended a Somali wedding.
Being young, Mormon and female, Ardern identifies with being stereotyped, particularly when it comes to belonging to a community built around a strong faith.
‘I was determined to tell the stories of this community. Putting this exhibition together was never going to be a case of just turning up, pointing a camera and shooting’ says Ardern.
‘While it has been a personal privilege to be afforded my own ‘Rare View’, I hope the exhibition will be of benefit to the Somali community and challenge the wider population.’
Mark Hamilton
Mark Hamilton has been photographing for 20 years.
After giving up his ‘day job’ to go to art school in 1998, Mark obtained a Bachelor of Media Arts from WINTEC in Hamilton in 2001.
While working on the ‘Rare View’ exhibition with the Waikato Museum recently, he was invited to share a meal with one of the Somali families involved; it is these experiences that make documentary photography Mark’s favourite genre to work in.
Mark is never content with where he is photographically, and it is this restlessness that motivates him as a photographer. The ‘Rare View’ exhibition has been yet another opportunity to further develop his skill as a social documentarian.
Mark has commented that while he hopes this exhibition gives the public a glimpse into a previously unknown community, it has been a personal privilege to be afforded his own ‘Rare View’.

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