“It’s very sad that a person fears her safety, just because she supports basic human rights. In this atmosphere, fighting for women’s rights is a luxury for many people,” Gizem, 2016.

A tweet took me to Turkey initially - an image of young women laughing in the street and the Turkish words #direnkahkaha (resist laughter). The post was one of thousands shared by Turkish women to protest comments by the country’s then-Deputy Prime Minister who said women should not laugh in public. The post found me, 16,000 kms away. It made me want to learn more about these women; digital natives taking to virtual streets connecting with an international women’s movement.

I first visited in Turkey 2015, the same year I began tentatively calling myself a feminist. Many I interviewed and photographed identified with the word. Some rejected the label and the movement as Western, preferring that their actions alone define them. As a group, they were unified in their outrage about skyrocketing numbers of murdered women - 1400% increase between 2003 and 2010. On every other issue, they were divided: motherhood, politics, sexuality, tradition, and religion.

Returning in 2016, I found a movement being rapidly reshaped by the intensity of current events in Turkey - multiple terrorist attacks, an increasingly conservative and fascist (yet popular) Government, a failed military coup followed by state of emergency. Amidst widespread arrests of those who oppose and criticise the Government, I was met not with defiance, but with a creeping sense of defeat amongst those I spent time with. Self-preservation for a cause had become, naturally, more of a priority than self-sacrifice.

Ten images from work in progress can be seen below. 

AlanaHolmberg_ResistLaughter_OSFxWP_ (4).JPG
“The real danger is our opinions. It is not certain that they will not arrest me when I will go out from this room.”

“The real danger is our opinions. It is not certain that they will not arrest me when I will go out from this room.”


Additional Portfolio Items

Visau ni draki (a change in the weather)

Visau ni draki (a change in the weather) is a reflective meditation on daily life in four Fijian coastal villages amidst the loss and displacement associated with climate change.

Embodying the pace and rhythms of these communities, this immersive work aims to communicate both existence and fragility — of place, customs and ways of being. In doing so highlighting the incongruence of the persistent stress, worry and powerless that permeates it.

The rise of urban living has dampened or deleted the potential for many of us to understand the deep spiritual, cultural and ancestral connection to place that defines the identify and life of many Fijians. This gap can limits the breadth of our empathy and ultimately, our action to combat climate change.

I am interested in experimenting with different methods presenting visual documentary work to elicit empathy and connection between viewer and subject. By repackaging sound, motion and stills collected by myself and others on assignment, I aim to foster a deeper connection about this place, an alternative outcome to the short-lived clicks and shares this content sought in other formats.

In doing so, I hope to question and re-prioritise the modes in which we attempt to engage others in distant problems, impacting distant cultures and people.

Commissioned by the Museum of Art and Science, Sydney.