My lens is not dispassionate – I am an advocate. I carry my camera to the world’s marginalized places – like Chernobyl, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.
Many of my projects bring to light the very real consequences of human tragedies that have been extensively covered up or have faded from view. We all know that the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident was one of the most devastating industrial accidents in history. But there has been a shocking lack of attention to its long-term impact, including extensive ecological, medical, economic, socio-political and cultural consequences. My project titled “Half Lives and Half Truths” brings the very real consequences back into the public sphere.
The 2006 Lebanon War made headlines for a short period, then faded quickly from public view. My project titled “After War” documents the lesser-known consequences of the indiscriminate use of cluster bomb ammunition on southern Lebanon. This collaborative project, relying on photographs of and interviews with cluster bomb victims or their families, seeks to overcome the lack of media attention to the extensive violence and loss of life that occurred after the war was technically over.
An ongoing documentary project titled “Guests” focuses attention on Iraqi refugees who fled the war and sectarian violence and relocated to Damascus, Syria. The number of Iraqis displaced either internally or externally is now estimated at more than 5 million, making it one of the greatest refugee crises in modern history. Yet this story barely registers in the U.S. mainstream media and receives almost no attention from policymakers in Washington.
When I meet, interview, and photograph those living daily in unimaginable hardship and despair, I am often overcome by my own inability to do more to respond. But the dignity, resilience, and persevering humanity of these individuals leaves me with no other choice but to cling to the belief that, with pictures, one can ultimately alleviate pain and rally support for social justice.
Gabriela Bulisova is a documentary photographer from the former Czechoslovakia, currently based in Washington, DC.
She has received numerous recognitions and awards, including: the Corcoran School of Art and Design Faculty Grant Award; the Aperture Portfolio Review Top Tier Portfolios of Merit; the CEC ArtsLink Projects grant; the Puffin Foundation Grant; the PDN Annual Photography Competition Winner in Student Category award; and the CANON “Explorer of Light” award. Bulisova was a participant at the Eddie Adams Workshop for emerging photographers and a graduate fellow at the National Graduate Photography Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY.
Bulisova teaches photography and photojournalism courses at George Mason University in Virginia and the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC. She is a member of the Metro Collective Photographic Agency and the Women Photojournalists of Washington. In 2005, Bulisova was awarded the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Digital Imaging from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. website.