Lifeblood is a photography project by Samora Chapman in collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) & Genomics Africa that highlights the diversity of humans, plants and animals in our mesmerizing corner of the world. The show was curated by Prof Tulio de Oliveira, Director of KRISP.
Samora is a Durban-based photographer who has been working in the social-documentary space for eight years.
“As a photographer I was given the assignment of searching for visual metaphors that give life to the idea of diversity,” says Samora about the project.
“The visual contrasts around us are stark and beautiful. But what I found most fascinated in working on the project was seeing the small things that connect us, despite our differences.
“Durban and KwaZulu-Natal are rich in diversity,” he continues. “We have a fiery mix of people co-existing – Zulus, Xhosas, Indians, westerners, Mozambicans, Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Senegalese, Congolese and Ethiopians – all striving to sink their roots into this patch of earth, to make it home and engineer a way to survive, against all odds. I see every culture assimilating into the Durban step, the rhythm of the city, while also fighting to retain a sense of cultural identity.”
Collectively, Africans are the most genetically diverse people in the world. They are also one of the most resilient populations to disease. It is on this continent, we expect the next breakthroughs in genetic research to happen. Scientists recently discovered that the African genome has an additional 300 million base pairs and now there is a race to identify genes that can be used to develop better treatments, diagnostics and vaccines.
Africa is immensely rich in biodiversity too. Its extremely varied biomes support diverse animal, plant and marine life. Its living organisms comprise around a quarter of the world’s biodiversity and it has the greatest number of large mammals on earth.
Africa’s biodiversity is a valuable global resource, which is now under serious threat from both climate change and urbanisation.
We are at a critical point in time, where genomics can help to record the biodiversity levels and advance scientific research and conservation efforts.
“There is a strong current of fear and anxiety in South Africa and abroad,” Samora adds. “It’s a time when there are so many things dividing us – like gender-based violence, xenophobia and climate issues. In examining our diversity, the most important feeling that rises within me is that we are all different, but the same. We all want to survive, to thrive, to be recognized, loved and respected… no matter what our genetic makeup. We all have the same colour blood pumping through our veins. The same life force. What we share is that magic ingredient that makes us alive.”
The exhibition is opening on 24 October, 7pm, at Community (3 Millar Rd) in Durban. Prints will be on sale and 50% of all proceeds go to KRISP & Genomics Africa.
No need to RSVP! All invited to enjoy this exciting Art & Science collaboration!