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Bronze 2022 People / Portrait

Yunita Mabel of The Dani Tribe

  • Photographer
    Guy Needham
  • Prize
    Bronze in People / Portrait

In the distant land of Papua, Indonesia, live the Dani tribe. Although thousands of years old, they were unknown to the rest of the world until 1938. In 2022 I was invited into the Obia and Anemoigi villages, as part of my ongoing project to document indigenous peoples. This portrait is of Yunita Mabel, one of the young Dani women. Her pose is strong, slightly reminiscent of the Mona Lisa. Like other Dani women, Yunita plays the traditional role expected of females in the tribe - cooking, cleaning, and looking after the children - and lives separately to the men in the village.

Guy Needham’s inquisitive worldview was shaped by growing up in rural New Zealand in the 1970s. Today he is noted for his work with indigenous tribes, primarily drawing on themes of identity and place within cultural narratives. His work is a hybrid of photographic genres, sitting somewhere between documentary and portraiture fine art. The simplicity of his pared-down style often belies a nuanced observation and complexity of subjects. Described as having both a quiet intensity and a subtle momentum, his work is a choreography of light and composition, stillness and movement.