Lindsay Mackenzie’s photography demands attention. As evidenced in the characteristically graphic, stark and emotive images following, her work is less a spotlight on the divergence in human rights globally, but a request to witness the existence of this in the raw inescapability mediated by her photographs. Hailing from Canada, Mackenzie’s work as photographer and multimedia journalist has necessitated reconnaissance and coverage postings to Iraq alongside the UN Security Assistance Mission, Equatorial Guinea, Tunisia, Libya to document the refugee crisis (the series from which the following selection are taken) and currently finds her in Erbil.
Writing about the human disaster in Libya, Mackenzie notes that the wave of revolts that spread across the Arab region during early 2011 displaced millions with almost 900,000 people fleeing the country since the uprising began. Many have taken refuge in Tunisian homes and temporary dwellings, migrant workers from Bangladesh, China and Egypt have returned home while those from Somalia, Eritrea and pockets of West Africa are trapped in refugee camps. Thousands have attempted the perilous journey across the Mediterranean towards European coastlines, seeing over 1,500 deaths at sea.
So often when showcasing MdM’s photojournalist of the month, there is an unconscious tendency to create a discourse of privilege or ‘voyeur’ surrounding the actor (or photographer, who could actually be the antithesis to this i.e. passive) in a complex crisis situation. But this is injudicious and needs to be acknowledged as a potential truth, but one that is largely unfounded. Mackenzie works with NGO clients throughout the Middle East and North Africa, teaches photography for National Geographic Student Expeditions and juggles producing radio programmes in Canada, yet there is a real sense that her artistic vision is grounded, and motivated, by the experiences in the land and peoples she lives with, encounters, and frames in her work. Of particular note is her Instagram feed @everydaymiddleeast, which registers a keen eye willing to showcase the quotidian as much as to hold out tragedy on upward facing palms. Her work is an invitation, to do with what you will.