Tim Freccia was born in Seattle and began his working career as an Alaska fisherman at 16. After graduating from art school in 1989, he has covered crisis and conflict worldwide, traveling to some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous locations as a documentary photographer and filmmaker. Freccia documented Haiti’s first democratic election and the subsequent military coup, obtaining an exclusive audience with General Raoul Cedras. He continued on a path through the Third World, covering Tuareg uprisings in Niger and Mali and Nelson Mandela’s triumphant tour of Africa. He has also documented the 2004-2005 Indian Ocean tsunami, the war in Eastern Congo and Somalia, and the Libyan revolution. Freccia is currently based in New York and continues to focus on people living in the world’s most compromised natural and political environments—Eastern and Southern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East among them. Freccia’s work has been featured in Time Magazine, The New York Times, Business Week, Al Jazeera, BBC, Global Post, Neue Züricher Zeitung, The Age, The National, Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, AP, Stern Online, and a variety of other print and broadcast outlets, as well as in campaigns for UN agencies and major international NGOs.
“I wanted to photograph the Dinka of Yirol for simple reasons. They are tall—many are 7 feet tall and more. They are thin and muscular. And, they exude a certain air of nobility. They are, in my mind, perfect humans,” says the artist about his series of portraits shot in South Sudan. “The Dinka from this region of South Sudan have a reputation for super-human ferocity in battle. When I first encountered these cowherds I was struck most by their apparent lack of emotion. It felt as if they had more in common with the cows they herd than they did with the other tribes in the region who threaten them on a regular basis. They move slowly, speaking softly to each other, resting for long periods. No energy is wasted. They walk hundreds of miles with little food or water. As I photographed them, I was aware that any one of them were capable of killing me with their bare hands. I didn’t feel threatened.
Never have I encountered a group so homogenous and so passive in their reaction to me. They displayed a trust mixed with confidence and mild curiosity. We didn’t share a single word. I motioned to the backdrop, and as they stood for the portraits, I felt them interrogate me from behind their blank stares. The Dinka of Yirol keep to themselves, wear short floral dresses and decorate themselves with rubber gaskets, electric cables and cheap Chinese jewelry. They don’t carry guns, but big sticks. They are vain and superior, but their dignity and self-sufficiency imparts elegance.”
Artist’s website: timfreccia.com