Thursday, 11 July 2013

Sofie Olsen | The Moken People

Photo © Sofie Olsen-All Rights Reserved
The Moken are an ethnic group of about 2,000 to 3,000 members who live on the coast and islands in the Andaman Sea, on the west coast of Thailand, and the Mergui Archipelago of Burma. In Thailand, they're called Chao Ley (people of the sea) or Chao nam (people of the water). They're also called Sea Gypsies; a generic term that applies to a number of peoples in southeast Asia.

Some of the Burmese Moken are still nomadic people who roam the sea most of their lives in small hand-crafted wooden boats, however much of their traditional life, built on the premise of life as outsiders, is under threat and appears to be diminishing.

The Norwegian photographer Sofie Olsen travelled to the Surin Islands in the Andaman Sea, located 55 km from the Thai mainland to document the Moken people’s way of life and on-going aquatic-based culture.

Ms Olsen attended the International Center of Photography in New York City, where she graduated in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism in June 2011. Following her graduation Olsen was awarded the Center’s prestigious ICP Directors Fellowship. She won the London Festival of Photography Prize in 2012 with her photo-film I Am Light, which features an artist living in an alternative encampment in Norway together with Roma Gypsies.