The act of creating an image becomes a ritual, a holy act that also allows the viewer to transcend time.
Over the decades, I have photographed Indigenous Peoples fighting for their lands, their traditions, their languages, and their very lives against corporate, governmental and missionary interests and the encroachment of capitalism. Years ago, I met a beautiful man in a dusty roadside market in Kenya. With tribal markings on his forehead and a torn western t-shirt, he was caught between his traditional village and the modern capital of Nairobi. He asked me to take his portrait. I called this image “Tribal Man in Transition,” a thematic precursor to my current photographs.
It is my sincere wish that DIGNITY will serve as a critical call-to-action in support of all Indigenous Peoples. “The ancient ones” tell us where we have come from and where we must go as a world community. Humanity’s survival depends on how carefully we listen.
Dana Gluckstein has photographed iconic figures including Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu, and Muhammad Ali, as well as award-winning advertising campaigns for clients such as Apple and Toyota. Her portraits are held in the permanent collections of museums such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Her book, DIGNITY: In Honor of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the associated international museum exhibition, DIGNITY: Tribes in Transition, have received international acclaim and awards.
Dignity, in association with Amnesty International for their 50th anniversary, helped create the “tipping point” for President Obama to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. DIGNITY exhibited at the U.N. in Geneva in 2011. Gluckstein addressed the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland in 2013 on how art can impact the state of the world. The DIGNITY exhibition, which presented at European museums for the past several years, begins a U.S. tour at the Boston University Art Gallery on January 29th, 2015. Gluckstein is currently working in association with Amnesty International USA on a DIGNITY campaign to end discrimination and sexual assaults of Native American Women.
Gluckstein graduated from Stanford University, where she studied psychology, painting, and photography, and realized the power of images to shape consciousness. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.